March Wrap Up

In total last month I read seven novels and six graphic novels. I only read one classic which will hopefully never happen again for the remainder of 2017. My book of the month was Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which is in fact the one classic of March. You can find a review of my book of the month here. My favourite graphic novel was Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Fraction and Zdarsky as it was the most original of the six. The Honourable mention of March goes to Cress by Marissa Meyer which I can’t say much about as it is the third book in a series.

 

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Since its publication in 2003, nearly 7 million readers have discovered “The Kite Runner.” Through Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to vivid life for readers. Now, in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel adaptation, Hosseini brings his compelling story to a new generation of readers 

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Hosseini, Andolfo, Valsecchi and Celoni. I have previously read the original novel which is one of my all time favourites so this was a reread for me. It was adapted well although it took a while to get into as I felt that in the beginning too much of the story was missed and it felt patchy. This is of course not a problem readers who haven’t previously read the novel would have. I really enjoyed the artist’s interpretation of the characters and liked the colour palette.

 

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“Y” is none other than unemployed escape artist Yorick Brown (his father was a Shakespeare buff), and he’s seemingly the only male human left alive after a mysterious plague kills all Y-chromosome carriers on earth. But why are he and his faithful companion, the often testy male monkey Ampersand, still alive? He sets out to find the answer (and his girlfriend), while running from angry female Republicans (now running the government), Amazon wannabes that include his own sister (seemingly brainwashed), and other threats.

Y: The Last Man by Vaughan, Guerra and Marzán Jr. This was my first Vaughan graphic novel and while I know it won’t be my last I don’t think this one is outstanding. Nevertheless it was entertaining and I enjoyed the art therefore I will be continuing with the series. That being said, having only read this volume I cannot see myself buying the series, I will try and request Volume Two from my local library.

 

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‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago…

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. This is a book that had lots of hype. I enjoyed the novel although perhaps enjoyed its sub-plot the most. The characters are memorable and while it will not be making my 2017 favourites I would recommend this book to others. Especially those who enjoy unreliable narrators. It was a fast and entertaining read.

 

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Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift…

While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.

The Girl in the Red Coatby Kate Hamer. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Healey’s crime novel. I found the characters less memorable and while Hamer’s novel was entertaining overall, I found myself getting bored about halfway through.

 

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The classic bestselling book the subject of a play, a movie, and a song that tells the darkly fascinating story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special, and ultimately dangerous, relationship with six of her students.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. Read more here!

 

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Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Another hyped novel, this book read like a classic and has some memorable characters, although in my opinion Chbosky’s novel has stronger male characters than female. Nevertheless The Perks of Being a Wallflower made my list of Top 10 YA novels.  You can read more about my thoughts of the novel by clicking the title link. I also watched the movie adaptation this month which I also really enjoyed, especially the dance floor scene.

 

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From the author of The Sky Is Every­where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying – all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. If only I’d read that Goodreads blurb before reading, “For fans of John Green” I agree with this comparison. This was a hyped novel that I honestly found underwhelming, I found it full of clichés, I did not like the relationship between the two main characters or even the characters themselves. While I did enjoy Noah’s narrative more I still did not particularly enjoy Nelson’s YA novel. It is also really long so overall an unfortunately disappointing read.

 

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Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, another book I did not enjoy this month which I’m deeply disappointed by as it is one of my reading goals to read more non-fiction, memoirs included. However I will not be reading any of Moran’s other works, the humour was not for me.

 

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The Definitive Deadpool by  Fabian NiciezaJoe MadureiraJoe KellyTony MooreDaniel WayRob LiefeldPaco MedinaAlé Garza , Brian PosehnGerry Duggan

This was as I expected it to be, some of it was entertaining and witty and other parts I found boring. The problem probably stemmed from the fact that while I enjoy certain superheroes I am more a fan of X-Men and Batman than other Marvel characters or in this case individual Marvel characters. I am not an Avengers fan for instance as I think they always try too hard to be funny. Therefore I guess I’m trying to say take my words with a pinch of salt.

 

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Callum is a nought – an inferior white citizen in a society controlled by the black Crosses.
Sephy is a Cross – and the daughter of one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the country.
In their hostile, violent world, noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. But when Sephy and Callum’s childhood friendship grows into love, they’re determined to find a way to be together.
And then the bomb explodes . . .

The long-awaited graphic novel adaptation of one of the most influential, critically acclaimed and original novels of all time, from multi-award-winning Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses Graphic Novel by Blackman and John Aggs, another reread for me. I enjoyed the graphic novel and found that the story flowed better in this adaptation than it did in The Kite Runner: A Graphic Novel however I liked the art less. I would recommend the novel over the graphic novel. 

 

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Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Fraction and Zdarsky, a highly original and funny graphic novel. I can’t go into it without spoilers but I will vaguely say that I had an issue with the characters introduced at the end of the novel and what they were there for. I will also try to request Volume Two from my local library.

 

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Cress by Marissa Meyer. I can’t insert a blurb for this one as it is the third in a series. However, I will be doing a spoiler review of The Lunar Chronicles once I have read the final novel Winter.

 

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Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, a family history of the holocaust. This graphic novel is deeply effecting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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March Book Haul

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Today I picked five books up from the library and bought 6 more. In the happiest of circumstances Danny then came home from work with two more! Here are the books we ordered/bought:

 

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This extraordinary historical novel, set in Medieval Paris under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, is the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation. Shaped by a profound sense of tragic irony, it is a work that gives full play to Victor Hugo’s brilliant historical imagination and his remarkable powers of description.

This is one classic I’ve always wanted to read. I adore Paris and French Literature. I also, albeit less relevant love the Disney adaptation and am interested in Hugo’s family’s sheer loathing for this adaptation. Obviously I am expecting it to be vastly different from the Disney version, in fact I’m hoping it will be. I cannot wait to get around to this one!

 

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‘We believe in her as in a woman we might providentially meet some fine day when we should find ourselves doubting of the immortality of the soul’

wrote Henry James of Dorothea Brooke, who shares with the young doctor Tertius Lydgate not only a central role in Middlemarch but also a fervent conviction that life should be heroic.

By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England’s finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community–tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry–in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader’s sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.

I read The Lifted Veil at university and it is one of my favourite books of all time. Therefore I’d love to go into this book blind as I know it is Eliot’s most popular novel and hope to enjoy it as much.

 

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For the centennial of its original publication, a beautiful Deluxe Edition of one of Joyce’s greatest works — featuring an introduction by Karl Ove Knausgaard, author the six-volume New York Times bestselling global literary phenomenon My Struggle, which has been likened to a 21st-century Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The first, shortest, and most approachable of James Joyce’s novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man portrays the Dublin upbringing of Stephen Dedalus, from his youthful days at Clongowes Wood College to his radical questioning of all convention. In doing so, it provides an oblique self-portrait of the young Joyce himself. At its center lie questions of origin and source, authority and authorship, and the relationship of an artist to his family, culture, and race. Exuberantly inventive in style, the novel subtly and beautifully orchestrates the patterns of quotation and repetition instrumental in its hero’s quest to create his own character, his own language, life, and art: “to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

I have only ever heard one review of this novel and it was terrible, yet it was this poor review that made me want to read it. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? I also decided that I had to buy a James Joyce novel as it’s St Patrick’s Day. I will be reviewing this one.

 

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Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they’re hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient…and hungry.

Will I leave this one to October? Do I have that much will-power? probably not. I have been wanting to read this one for a while and horror is a genre I want to delve into this year. I am also interested in different depictions of witches and am hoping this one is unique.

 

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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!

Sci-fi and Romance are both genres I rarely reach for. This is perfect for me and I’ve been wanting to read it for a while, I assume I first heard of the series through Booktube but I can’t accurately remember.

 

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 Blurb for Vol 1:

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?

I love the animé, which I haven’t finished because I want to read the manga. I’ve only watched the animé to the the point where the last volume ended which I read this year and also loved.

 

These are the two novels Danny purchased:

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Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program.

Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘colored computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.

We both want to watch all of the Oscar nominated movies and I would like to read more non-fiction. Especially non-fiction about women who were omitted from our History lessons. I also love learning about NASA.

 

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What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment? Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in ‘neutral’ Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows.

As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav’s life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined.

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life’s hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.

If you want to know my thoughts on this novel check out my first impressions of the blurb and free e-book sample here.

Sophie

March TBR

(S) I hope to read all the books in my library haul which you can find here. I also hope to finish reading the short story collection Legoland by Gerard Woodward and The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Also, if time allows I would like to finish reading classic crime novel Greenmantle by John Buchan, I read the first novel of this series The Thirty-Nine Steps last year and I really enjoyed it, its sequel has came very highly recommended to me.

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(D)

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The Art of being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

I have been challenged to read this and so far it is a quick easy read. I cannot comment too much as I am only on page 18 but I hope to complete as soon as possible.

 

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Tokyo Ghoul 3 by Sui Ishida

I have already finished books 1 and 2 in the series and would like to continue. So far the animation is brilliant and the story is captivating, it is also a nice break from the normal prose.

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I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Another one I have been challenged to read by Amy (my sister) for this years challenge. As I have previously discussed this one is very intriguing. I have already read the Book Thief and loved it, hopefully this will be as good.

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The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Not much needed for discussion. I have recently reviewed the first four in the series along with the new Netflix Series. I am simply eager to find out what happens next.

 

We’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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