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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April TBR Challenge: 30 books in 30 days

After watching a Beyond the Pages video about her current reading challenge, to read 30 books in 30 days, I have decided to also partake. This post will be a list of books that I hope to read this month. At the end of each week I will be doing a wrap up of my reading, I am hoping to stick exactly to the schedule below. Wish me luck!

Days 1-7

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Days 8-14

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Days 15-21

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Days 22-30

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Sophie

Reading Habits Tag

When is the best time to read? Is that even a question? Well I have decided to do this tag and express my reading habits. This tag was created by TheBookJazz, I am going to run through the following questions:

Reading Habits

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
6. One book at a time or several at once?
7. Reading at home or everywhere?
8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
11. Do you write in your books?

So let’s start, I find it quite ironic that I am writing about my reading habits rather than actually reading but anyway let be crazy.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Not really, I do enjoy waking up on a weekend and going down into my living room and reading on the far end of the sofa near our living room window. This is usually when Sophie is still asleep and therefore the whole house is silent which is my favourite situation for reading.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

This one is a bit more complicated, I normally use whatever is going closest to me. If that happens to be a bookmark it will stay in a run of my books and will only change when I eventually finish a book and don’t immediately start another one. Currently whilst I am reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I am using the ace of spades from a mini pack of cards that was in a Christmas Cracker.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I can just stop if need be but I prefer to finish the chapter. I would used to set myself a target of around 50 pages but this would depend on how the chapters ran. If it ended on 49 pages an I was running out of time to go out I wouldn’t pressure myself to continue reading as I wouldn’t be able to finish the chapter which would just annoy me.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Do I eat or drink, anyone knows me knows that I am always eating and drinking so the answer is Yes.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

I cannot do anything whilst I am reading if I want to concentrate on the book. The only time my concentration levels are good is when I am at work. When I am at home if I want to read I don’t like any background noise and I certainly cannot watch a movie at the same time.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

I used to only read one at a time until I had finished it, however this was one of the reasons I ended up being in such a reading slump last year so I am now reading a couple at once and switching between which one suits my mood each time. I think this is going to prevent me from being in a slump in the future.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

I normally read at home but it doesn’t mean that I can’t read anywhere but home. Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) does say “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” I try to be as trustworthy as possible.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently?? This is weird question…

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

No I don’t see the point in ruining the end of the Book. I only look ahead to see how many pages I am letting myself in for. Not that I am going to turn my nose up at a lengthy book but I like to challenge myself to read a book as quickly as I can. I will never keep up with Sophie though.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I am not a murderer! If the spine is already broken then I will enjoy the freedom but I would never plot to break the spine. I mean this action alone would get me crucified by Sophie never mind break all my morals. I realise this answer may be a bit over the top but trust me both my Sister Sam and Sophie both think books are to be treated with respect and I completely agree. No breaking spines! 

11. Do you write in your books?

Hello…? Did you just read the answer above? The only books I have ever written in were for University and that was in order to help my understand the latin. I did not do it very often before everyone goes crazy.

So thats all folks, my reading habits. On a side note I am also a very slow reader or at least I am compared to Sophie who could read several books in a day. I did however do a competition with my sister to see who could read the most and I won by a small fraction but I think that is down to the fact I am just really competitive.

Bye for now..

 

Danny

Annual Reading Challenge

This year we are once more taking part in the annual reading challenge. We started doing this challenge last year and really enjoyed it. This year two people close to me have each chose five books for me to read during 2017. I will go through each set of recommended reads starting from least to most anticipated.

The first set of books are as follows:

1. The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn

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I read Gone Girl a couple of years ago and I really disliked it so this one is not top of my list but the point of this reading challenge is to read books that you wouldn’t normally pick up or haven’t got around to reading. This one is definitely one I wouldn’t pick up. Although I do like to read at least two works by an author before I pass judgement.  The GrownUp is about:

A Young woman making a living faking it as a cut price psychic (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side.) She makes a decent wage mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke.

Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15 year-old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home. The young woman doesn’t believe in exorcism or the supernatural. However when she enters the house for  the first time, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time…. 

 

2. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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This one I’m looking forward to although I would probably never get around to buying it myself as there is just so many books higher on my list. I will most definitely watch the movie after reading the novel. I am a little apprehensive about the issues touched upon in the novel, more specifically Early-Onset Alzheimer’s as it will be difficult to read about. This also makes me dubious about the quality of the novel as it is a very challenging subject to write about in fiction. Blurb…

Alice is just fifty when she finds herself in a downward spiral, increasingly disoriented and forgetful. A university professor, wife and mother of three, she has books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But now a tragic diagnosis early-onset Alzeimer’s disease is set to change her life- and her relationship with her family and the world- forever. 

Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging by a frayed thread. But she is still Alice.

3. Angelfall by Susan Ee

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I am intrigued by this novel about an angel apocalypse. A rare hardly-talked-about YA dystopia. I have little to go on with this one so here is the blurb…

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen year old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-straved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in SanFrancisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

4. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

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Another book with its own movie, so its safe to say I’m excited for this one. It’s also the only classic novel recommended to me this year. As I’m hoping to read more classics this year than ever before therefore I am grateful for this recommendation. Sophie’s Choice is a very famous story though I am not aware of any of the details so I am still expecting a few surprises.

Stingo, an inexperienced twenty-year-old Southerner, takes us back to the summer of 1947 and a boarding house in a leafy Brooklyn suburb. There he meets Nathan, a fiery Jewish intellectual; and Sophie, a beautiful and fragile Polish Catholic. Sting is drawn into the heart of their passionate and destructive relationship as witness, confidant and supplicant. Ultimately, he arrives at the dark core of Sophie’s past: her memories of pre-war Poland, the concentration camp and-  the essence of her terrible secret- her choice.

5. Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw

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I am really looking forward to this novel. Interestingly, four of the five authors recommended to me here I’ve never read before. I am expecting another emotional novel and simply can’t wait for this one:

In the hustle and bustle of sixties Indonesia, two orphaned brothers are adopted by very different families: Johan, by a wealthy Malaysian couple living in Kuala Lumpur, and Adam, by a Dutch painter, Karl, from a simple coastal town in Indonesia. As they grow up, Adam often wonders about his older brother, while Johan is wracked with guilt at the memory of leaving him.

In Indonesia itself, the shadow of colonialism is causing civil unrest; and foreigners are treated with increasing hostility, especially the Dutch. When Karl is arrested, Adam vows to do everything he can to find him.

This extraordinary tale perfectly captures the turmoil of a country teetering on the brink of war; and the experiences of the two young men in an exotic yet turbulent and often frightening world.

The second set of recommended reads are:

1. Half Bad by Sally Green

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Out of this selection of recommended reads Half Bad is my least anticipated novel. Simply because, yet again, I do not know much about it and have not heard many reviews. Also, I have only just noticed that the red pattern on the book is actually a face, I thought it was blood/smoke before but that’s a whole other story, I am really not observant. Blurb…

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

2. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

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Similarly to the Gillian Flynn novel I have previously read a novel I did not enjoy by Maggie Stiefvater. I read Lament a couple of years ago and was not a fan. However my sister is a big fan of Stiefvater and I am more than willing to give Sinner a fair chance. This is a companion novel to the Shiver, Linger and Forever Trilogy. I have taken the blurb from Goodreads and am not expecting to be blown away, I am going into it with an open mind nevertheless…

found.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn’t just want her. He needs her.

lost.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It’s not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes…but what’s the point? What is there to win?

sinner.
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go. 

3. Monster by Naoki Urasawa

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As previously mentioned I started reading Manga last year and I am eager to read more. I have heard that the Monster series is like Deathnote minus the supernatural elements. I’ve yet to find out for myself but it’s fair to say this is a highly anticipated read! Blurb…

Everyone faces uncertainty at some point in their lives. Even a brilliant surgeon like Kenzo Tenma is no exception. But there’s no way for him to know that his decision to stop chasing professional success and instead concentrate on his oath to save peoples’ lives will result in the birth of an abomination. The questions of good and evil now take on a terrifyingly real dimension.

Years later, in Germany during the tumultuous post-reunification period, middle-aged childless couples are being killed one after another.
The serial killer’s identity is known.
The reasons why he kills are not.
Dr. Tenma sets out on a journey to find the killer’s twin sister, who may hold some clues to solving the enigma of the “Monster.”

4. Rumi

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I have also been challenged to read poetry! I couldn’t be happier with this choice especially because I have not read Rumi (Other than a few lines) before. I will without a doubt be writing a posted dedicated to Rumi’s poetry.

5. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

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Marlowe is a familiar figure to me due to my English degree and I’m really really excited to read another play this year. Every time someone recommends a play to me I read it, unfortunately, this rarely happens. Hopefully that will change and hopefully I will be recommending this play to people soon. The blurb (as it’s a play) is short but attention-grabbing…

One of the glories of Elizabethan drama: Marlowe’s powerful retelling of the story of the learned German doctor who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.

Have you read any of the novels/poetry or the play mentioned above? If so, what did you think?

Sophie

 

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.

The Saga of Darren Shan: Part One

I began reading The Saga of Darren Shan on the 30th March and was halfway through the series by April 12th. The Darren Shan Saga consists of 12 novels centred in our own world though full of supernatural beings. I started this series as the first novel ‘Cirque du Freak’ was one of the books in my Annual Reading Challenge.

I have not read the series or any of its companion series before. These books were highly recommended to me as they are among Danny’s childhood favourites. The series, as you may expect, is about the life of Darren Shan. Darren Shan tells his readers that this is a true story and that all of the names in his books have been changed for the characters’ and reader’s protection.

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‘Cirque Du Freak’ opens with a depiction of Darren’s home and school life. I was surprised by how well written the characters were considering this is book one in a twelve part series. I had expected to fall in love with the characters throughout the numerous instalments but found myself fully invested from the outset. I loved the mystery of the first novel as the very real and relatable friendships and familial relationships coincided with the fantastical, unnerving magic. We are cast into the supernatural world alongside these teenaged characters and our reactions mimic their own. One thing I liked about the first book in particular was that it was in no way patronising as children’s (specifically YA) novels often are. I gave book one a five star rating.

 

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The suspenseful atmosphere continues into book two ‘The Vampire’s Assistant’ as Darren enters a new stage in his life. The second instalment brings new characters that I loved. The magic is a much larger part of the storyline and we are learning a lot more about supernatural beings. I found this novel outstanding for a second book in a series as they are often lacking. It was again fast paced and I loved the ending. The tragedy continues in this novel and the relationships are almost as turbulent. I also gave this book a five star rating.

 

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‘Tunnels of Blood’ is the third book in the series and I was unfortunately disappointed with this one. I could not shake the feeling while reading this instalment that it was nothing more than a ‘filler’ as its main purpose seemed to be to add one new element that can be used in the following books to progress the series. In my opinion, its plot lacked the imagination of the first two. I once again enjoyed the relationships, a strength of this particular instalment is the theme of brotherhood. I also liked the new female character as the series in general is filled with fantastic male characters and there seems to be one central female character in each novel (if even.) The appearance of the enemy in this novel seemed a little far-fetched to me, which is saying a lot due to the fact the pages are filled with fantastical beings of all appearances. My main problem with the enemy was that the descriptions were a little juvenile and lessened the fear Shan could have provoked on his readers. However the new element was interesting (there is a similar element to the world in the Vampire Academy series) and there was an interesting fight scene. I gave this novel a rating of three stars.

 

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The next instalment is ‘Vampire Mountain’ which involved a trek. Darren Shan meets a pack of wolves in this novel and fights a bear. This novel really brought the chilling atmosphere back as there was an added importance to Shan’s movements. Again new characters were introduced and the novel ended on a high. The endings of these novels are done particularly well so that the final chapters of each book read like the final scene of the episodes in Game of Thrones series four. Darren Shan has a way of leaving his readers hungry for the next instalment. By this stage in the series you are so immersed in Shan’s world that you are at once dying to read more while missing the previous books, settings and characters. I gave the fourth book in the series four stars.

 

TrialsofDeath

The fifth book ‘Trials of Death’ has been one of my favourites so far. Darren Shan goes through a Tri-wizard Tournament-esque challenge aptly named The Trials of Death.  This novel is about Darren proving himself to his new found community and learning their ways. What is really cool about this instalment is that we learn the ways of life, beliefs and sayings of these supernatural creatures. Before each stage they make a hand gesture called The Death’s Touch which means “Even in Death, May you be triumphant” it was appropriately eerie. I loved the new characters and despite finding it a little predictable loved the addition of Larten’s back-story. I can’t wait to read his spin-off series! Once again the ending is brilliant and I gave the fifth book a five star rating!

 

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That brings us to the final book in this post, ‘The Vampire Prince.’ The sixth book brings us halfway through the series, for this reason I tried to read it slowly. I was also afraid I would not enjoy it as much as ‘Trials of Death’ which was ultimately the case. The politics of the supernatural world are at the forefront of the novel. Darren Shan is being nursed back to health, things are looking bleak and a character is lost. This book provides for character development in the following instalments. Its plot is very dramatic and at times a little silly. Although it did not live up to its predecessor the main struggle Shan faces is interesting and this novel is again action-packed. I gave this novel three stars.

If you like paranormal books I would definitely recommend this series! Some of the books are better than others as is the case in most series but they are always action-packed, full of wonderful characters and suspenseful endings and you can read a typical instalment in a day. I have since read book seven titled ‘Hunters of the Dusk’ which I hope to include in ‘The Saga of Darren Shan: Part Two’ review-post next week. Until then, happy reading!

Sophie

 

 

 

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