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

April Wrap-Up

Yes, this post is very late, forgive me. I feel like I have been in a reading slump for a long time although I have read 65 books so far in 2016 therefore I’m not actually reading less than usual I am just in an odd mind-set that often makes me reluctant to pick up my current reads. Nevertheless here is an account of the books I read throughout April…

The Radio by M.Jonathan Lee- I hope to read the other books in this trilogy and post a series review.

Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 3 by Sui Ishida- Another terrific volume, I highly recommend this Manga series.

Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan- I recently posted a review of The Darren Shan Saga books 1-6 that you can read here.

The Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan (2)

Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan (3)

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll- my first ever graphic novel! I enjoyed this collection of short stories although it was not as good as I had hoped it would be. My favourite story was the one with the creepy song.

Fairest Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham- I enjoyed this read too and will definitely be reading Fables, the series that inspired this spin-off series, soon. The artwork was fantastic and very colourful which only added to the fantasy world in which our story is set.

Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan (4)

Trials of Death by Darren Shan (5)

American Vampire by Scott Snyder- This was an interesting read with a refreshing take on Vampirism. The dialogue was fantastic (as expected with King’s input) it was both dark and comical. While I may not purchase the series I would read the next instalment if I found it at my local library.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell- I gave this book three stars, it was what I expected it to be, an easy-read with an interesting protagonist who has a bigger persona online than in real life. I did not appreciate the patronising boy-drama that seems crucial to any teenage girl centred YA novel. I did appreciate the fact that this novel shows a teenage girl who suffers from anxiety as well liked despite the fact she is an introvert. It chronicles some major struggles anxiety sufferers face. The family relationships portrayed in the novel were also generally well done.

The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan (6)

Gate 7 Vol.1 by CLAMP- In all honesty I just did not understand this one. Perhaps there is more plot in the continuations? this seemed to very vaguely introduce you to three supernatural beings and a parallel dimension without giving you any real information of who they are, why the parallel dimension exists, or why the seemingly normal protagonist has stumbled upon it. Instead the basis of the plot was look one of these supernatural beings- the only girl in the whole manga- is cute. That was her main characteristic.

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol. 1 by Jason Aaron- This was my first Marvel read and I really enjoyed it, it was quirky and fun and the artwork was good. I will be reading more.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo- This book started out well for me and then I found myself, at times, getting a little bored. A tale of national identity and immigration the plot centres around some very important issues and does this well. I do not believe Darling to be a very likeable character and find her reactions to American culture interesting but her actions unforgivably selfish. I thought the friendships depicted in the novel were one of the books major strengths.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Vol. 1 by Denise Mina- I have never read the Millennium Trilogy before so went into this graphic novel blind. I loved it, the artwork was incredible and the colour pallet very appropriate to the general mood of the story and was very intrigued by the plot, I will be reading Volume 2 as soon as possible, which I expect to be better than the first due to the continuation of the plot.

Hunters of the Dusk by Darren Shan (7)

Allies of the Night by Darren Shan (8)

Killers of the Dawn by Darren Shan (9)

Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 4 by Sui Ishida-This series is consistently entertaining and each volume is inarguably purposeful. I will definitely be continuing with the series and hope to read Volume 5 in May.

Therefore I read three Mangas, 12 novels and five graphic novels which was really exciting as I had never read any graphic novels before, I will definitely continue reading this genre. I hope to read more Classic Lit throughout May.

 

February Wrap-Up

Sophie: I managed to read 15 books this month which is the same as in January. The books I read are as follows

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 3/5, you can see my review here

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: 4/5, you can see my review here

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 5/5

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 5/5

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 4/5

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway: 5/5

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: 4/5, you can see my review here

The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt- 4/5

The Revenant by Michael Punke- 2/5

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling- 5/5, you can see my review here

A Tiny Feeling of Fear by M. Jonathan Lee: 5/5, you can see my mini review here

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler: 3/5

Sky Burial by Xinran: 4/5

The Old Man and the Moon by Shen Fu – 3/5

A Young Sherlock Holmes:Death Cloud by Andrew Lane – 3/5

Danny: This February I have read a total of 7 books, I have not been able to read as much as I would have liked due to work commitments. I have however managed to take get 10% through my Goodreads challenge for 2016, though I am apparently 9 books being schedule, I guess that is what happens when you set your challenge at 146 books. The books I read in February are as follows:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K.Rowling – 4/5 Brilliant but not my favourite Harry Potter book.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K.Rowling – 4/5

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K.Rowling – 5/5 Probably in my top 2

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – 5/5 see my review here

The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton – 4/5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling – 5/5

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 4/5

We are going to London this weekend as we have tickets to go to Harry Potter Studios, we can’t wait! We will definitely be writing a post about our trip and hope to come back home with a lot of Harry Potter goodies.