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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Netflix and Books Tag [Part One]

This tag is very simple- choose books and netflix shows (or movies) that fit the prompts. This may prove difficult as we, as a couple, don’t watch many of Netflix’s major successes. However we have decided to silently struggle anyway. If you have recommendations on what we should watch then please leave a comment!  We are hoping to watch some of Netflix’s well-loved shows soon and perhaps write a blog post dedicated to our opinions. Part Two of this tag will also be coming soon so stay posted.

 

1.Unlikeable Characters- How I Met Your Mother

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I hate How I Met Your Mother, I also hate Twilight by Stephenie Meyer which happens to be the corresponding book for this prompt, who would have guessed? I assume I don’t need to explain myself here, moving on…

 

 

2. Best Cast of Characters/Friendships- The Fundamentals of Caring

fundamentals_of_caring_poster51licnvk4mlThis movie is based on the novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison which I am now really eager to read!

We watched this movie recently and we really loved it. Watching how the characters come to meet and how their relationships form was such a joy. It’s a road trip movie unlike any we’ve seen before. Paul Rudd is great in these more serious/indie roles although the movie is still packed with humour.

Jonathan Evison has crafted a novel of the heart, a novel of unlikely heroes traveling through a grand American landscape, and most of all, a story that offers a profound look into what it takes to truly care for another person. Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this bighearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises as well as its immeasurable rewards

 

3. Hate That You Love or Guilty Pleasure- What to Expect When You’re Expecting

51ernouh0xl-_sx940_ 19w-paperback-coverI know this movie is not great but I can’t help but like it, it makes me happy. Luckily, its very difficult to make me feel embarrassed #noshame. In doing my research for this post I have discovered that my guilty pleasure novel was actually adapted into a lifetime tv movie haha! I may have a look for it. I remember enjoying Ebershoff’s novel when I read it a few years ago though it is definitely a guilty pleasure!

Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense. It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.

And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.

4. Long Series You Loved- The Big Bang Theory

vizio-the-big-bang-theory-960x1440.png CDF_5496We both love both of these series and we actually have a review of the first half of the Darren Shan saga here. I read the series last year for our annual reading challenge as it is a childhood favourite of Danny’s. I loved it and we are also long time viewers of The Big Bang Theory which I am sure you are all familiar with.

 

5. ‘All the Feels’ (silently judging)- Copenhagen

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I recently watched Copenhagen on Netflix featuring Gethin Anthony of Game of Thrones fame. The simple movie making works well with the complex plot and I loved the main characters. It was a new favourite from the beginning and I am now dying to visit Copenhagen and cycle around its streets as it truly looks beautiful. We have decided to choose The Book Thief by Markus Zusak as the novel for this category. The Book Thief is extremely popular but in case you are in the dark I will insert the blurb anyway. It is famous for pulling at its readers’ heartstrings.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. 

6. Bad Ending- The Returned

v1-ddsxmdezmjk7ajsxnziymdsxmjawozixmda7mjgwma maddaddam1__140604211942Perhaps it is not so much a show with a bad ending but a show that seems to end very quickly. We both enjoyed the series and maybe we were simply expecting the ending to be less expected? nevertheless the ending did not ruin the series for us unlike the trilogy I have chosen for this category. Having read The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace I was excited to read more of Atwood’s work. I was extremely disappointed and the quality of the series decreased in every instalment. Maybe Oryx and Crake should have been a standalone as it was definitely the best of the three. Here is the blurb of the first book in the trilogy:

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

 

Annual Reading Challenge meets Judge a Book by its Cover Challenge (Inception)

We did this same Challenge Last year, this challenge is between me and Amy, Sophie’s little sister. Sophie and Christie are also doing the same thing. First of all I will run through my thoughts on each book by judging the cover (I know don’t judge! get it…) I will also read the blurb and pass comment on the same. If you have ready any of these then please do not hesitate to comment you opinions below.

The 5 books Amy challenged me to read this year are:

  1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien
  3. The Art of being Normal by Lisa Williamson
  4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

So down to my reviews

  1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Front Cover

First of all I will say that last year I was challenged by Christie to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and absolutely loved it. I am therefore really excited before even reading the first word on the blurb. The front cover shows a blurred yellow Taxi which kind of reminds me of New York. Other than that there is what looks like another vehicle, potentially another cab going much quicker and therefore is even more blurred. I think from just looking at the front cover all I can assume is that this novel is not set in the same era as Zusak’s other book. If I was to go literally then I would say about a man or woman (maybe a cab driver) in New York who is there to deliver a message. This is probably completely wrong but I am writing this off the cover alone.

Blurb

I am not going to write the blurb down here as I am too lazy however I am happy to say I was right with the Taxi Driver, the blurb makes the character seem younger than I was expecting though I don’t really know what I was expecting. The concept of this, sounds kind of like a vigilante revenge story until it reads “Who’s behind Ed’s Message?” This gives the implication that something either happened to Ed to make him into a good person acting for what he deems is right or on a more sinister turn that someone is forcing him to act in the way he is. Obviously either way I will not know until I read but good news is I am quite intrigued by what I have seen so far.

 

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien

Front Cover

I have already read the Hobbit and seen all 6 movies in the Franchise, there is not much I can really say about this apart from the cover of this edition I have borrowed from Amy is pretty cool. It has the ring with elvish written around the circle and what looks like an eye of which I can only assume is Sauron. Either way I loved the Hobbit and am looking forward to reading this too.

Blurb

Again this is a bit pointless as I know what is going to happen however I am excited to see if the film missed any big parts from the book.

 

  1. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Front Cover

The Front cover here shows a Female silhouette (toilet stickman) ripping off an ‘outsershell’ of a male silhouette (toilet stickman) and standing proud. This gives me the impression that it is about gender identity and namely the transition of a male into a female. I am guessing it is about someones sex change and the story of whether or not this is normal in society. It may be about differing opinions on the issue and other peoples definition of being normal. Either way it is an interesting concept and it is probably not something I would generally pick up myself but that is the whole point of this challenge.

Blurb

The blurb has highlighted that this book is about the struggle of a young man in school who is not gay but rather doesn’t feel as though she was born the correct gender. Obviously this is interesting, it is hard to know whether or not the story is true to real expiriences unless of course Lisa was once Liam and then it would have a different meaning completely. Again I am interested however I wouldn’t have picked this myself.

 

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardogo

Front Cover

This cover is very intriguing. It is is a crow mid flight over cloudy buildings and a phrase “Six Dangerous Outcasts. One Impossible Heist”. I am hopeful that this is going to be like a darker cooler Oceans Eleven. I would be likely to pick something up like this myself and therefore I am quite excited to read. I love books that are quick paced and keep you guessing I feel like this is going to be like that.

Blurb

So my idea of a darker cooler Oceans Eleven is a bit wrong as it sounds more like Lord of the Rings Meets the Italian Job. It has a lot more mythical aspects and creatures and it is more obvious that it is definitely a YA novel than just the cover alone. I am obviously not against YA as some of my favourite reads of last year were YA. I hope it lives up to expectations… I am excited for this but not as much as I am for the final choice.

 

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Front Cover

I know this is a classic and the Clothbound edition which I have borrowed from Amy doesn’t give much away. If I were to say what the book was about from the cover I would say it is about a chandelier salesman or maybe a chandelier hoarder. Either one does not seem likely…

Blurb

After finding the blurb online due to the lack of blurb on the Clothbound Classic I am really excited to read my first Dickens. Thank you Amy! I will be looking to review this as well. I know it is like a crazy famous classic with numerous adaptations. I cannot actually wait for this one and would probably put this at the top of my list.

 

Finally I think I will also do the Try a Chapter Challenge and try and rate the books from the first chapter of each. I will do that shortly. Anyway any questions or comments on Amy’s suggestions then let me know.

 

Danny.

F1 Related Book Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Sophie came up with the idea of combining my passion for Formula 1 with my love of reading by reviewing a book by an author of the same nationality as the weekend’s Formula One. This week it is the Australian Grand Prix. Therefore this week I am going to review The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I was challenged to read this by Christie, Sophie’s little sister, in our annual reading challenge where we have to read 5 books chosen by the other throughout the year. So far this year, The Book Thief has been my favourite read. I love how witty and funny Zusak makes his novel despite it being a very serious and depressing topic. For those who haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it to you. Even if you have already seen the film, the words create a better picture and expand on the story.

For those who do not know, (where have you been?) this story is set in Nazi Germany, near Munich on a street named Himmel Street (Heaven Street). The main character (the book thief) is Liesel Meminger an orphan who is sent to live with her new foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubberman after her mother can no longer provide. At first she is apprehensive and scared, as you would expect, but she soon warms to her new home and family and grows to love her new mama and papa.

I am sorry for being so vague and I know that most people will probably have already read this and therefore it cannot be spoilt but just in case you are reading this and you haven’t read it I will do my best to avoid spoilers.

One thing I didn’t realise from watching the film, or at least I couldn’t remember was the fact that Death is the narrator. This is something I had not thought about when watching the film though it is a lot more prominent when reading the book. There are little notes from the narrator and little anecdotes about elsewhere in Germany and how the Second World War was for him. These anecdotes can range from being thought provoking and upsetting to quite amusing and even laugh-out-loud funny.

This future classic is one for all, it is a true masterpiece and one all literary lovers should pick up at some point in their lives. I hope that if I was ever to write a novel I could write something as moving as this and could make such an impact on someone as this novel has made on me. I feel like I am describing this poorly but it is simply too difficult to explain just how much I enjoyed this novel, definitely my favourite so far.

 

Danny

5books7days Wrap-Up!

Today marks the end of the 5books7days readathon hosted by the wonderful Lotte! Thus here is our first reading challenge wrap-up. We had a great time and hope to do another readathon in April. Here is what we managed to read during the readathon since it started on Monday.

Firstly a recap of our original TBR for this challenge:

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Sophie: Sky Burial by Xinran, The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, The Revenant by Michael Punke and Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane.

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Danny: Politics&The English Language by George Orwell, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell

 

And the results are as follows, Amount of books read:

Sophie: 6

Danny: 3

 

To conclude, here is what we actually read and what we thought of each book:

S: So I managed to read six books in total although I did not finish one of the novels on my original TBR. During the readathon I received a signed book to review from the author M.Jonathan Lee through Goodreads. This book is called A Tiny Feeling of Fear and is Lee’s third novel. I was so excited to read this novel that I started reading it straight away putting books on my TBR on hold. I also listened to the audiobook of Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and have previously posted my review. I loved both these novels, gave them both five stars on Goodreads and added A Tiny Feeling of Fear to my all-time favourites list.

Despite straying from my TBR on those two occasions I also managed to finish four out of five of my planned reads. I read The Last Summer of Us first and I believe gave this four out of five stars. This was at first a slow read but I grew to love the three main characters and their relationships. The story deals with identity and loss, in particular it focuses on the three main character’s relationships with their parents. Another cool thing about this novel, other than the characters and random animal appearances, is that it is set in Wales and it may very well be the first book I have read that is set in this country.

I then read Sky Burial by Xinran which was also a four out of five star read for me. Xinran is a successful Chinese journalist who is writing the story of Shu Wen, a Chinese woman who spent over 30 years in Tibet searching for her husband. The romantic pairings in this story were perfect and this was probably due to the fact it is a true story. This is the second ‘Penguin Drop Caps’ novel I have read and I have gave them both four stars therefore I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

My least favourite read of the readathon was definitely The Revenant. I did not hate this book I just found it frustrating due to it primarily being a revenge story. I wrote a short review of this book on my  Goodreads page. I read this book because I wanted to see the movie which I will once Danny has read the book. This may very well end up on a Movie Adaptation Monday feature in the future. I gave Punke’s novel a two out of five stars. My final read was a Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel by Anne Tyler titled A Spool of Blue Thread. I enjoyed this novel and thought it was very fast paced. A Spool of Blue Thread is centred around the ordinarily complicated Whitshank family. I did not however enjoy the section about Junior and Linnie May’s life which appeared late in the novel. I felt this unnecessary to the story and would have enjoyed the novel more if it was shorter. I gave Tyler’s novel a three out of five stars. I also started the final book on my TBR which is Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane and hope to finish this tomorrow.

D: As he mentioned earlier Danny was ‘made’ to listen to Kaling’s audiobook Why Not Me?  It is fair to say he did not enjoy Kaling’s second book as much as I did giving it three and a half stars. He particularly disliked the Sliding Doors style essay although liked the audiobook overall often laughing out loud to Kaling’s quips.

Danny was also able to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. He found that this was at first a disappointing read, although this quickly changed and was ultimately given four out of five stars. In terms of its Classic Dystopia genre Danny prefers Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984.

His final finished book was Politics & The English Language by George Orwell. Orwell is one of Danny’s favourite authors and this was a re-read. Danny has given this a four out of five stars which is quite impressive due to its size. During the week Danny has also started reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, although he has previously seen the movie adaptation he is still enjoying the book. He is particularly enjoying the unique narrative. In case you do not yet know The Book Thief is narrated by death. This is done well in the movie although obviously the narrator has more content in the novel. At the moment he is surprised by the humour in the novel and is looking forward to finishing the book. I believe Danny would like to watch the movie adaptation again soon, perhaps this will feature in our Movie Adaptation post tomorrow night. Although Danny did not manage to read as much as he wanted to he admirably managed to read three books in one particularly busy week.

 

Thanks for joining us throughout the week and happy reading!

Sophie