30 Books in 30 Days, Books 1-10

The first book I read this month was a collection of short stories, Legoland by Gerard Woodward. One of my reading habits I hoped to change this year was my reluctance to read short story collections, I won this collection on Goodreads last year and ended up rating it four out of five stars. There are stories covering a range of topics including divorce and identity theft as well as some stories dealing with the supernatural. I really enjoyed Woodward’s writing and my favourite stories were ‘The Family Whistle’ where a man returns from War to find his friend has taken his identity and is living with his wife,  ‘The Flag,’ a neighbourhood dystopia and ‘The Unloved’ on the subject of separation.

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The first novel I read this month was The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner. This was my second Faulkner novel having previously read As I Lay Dying. I think I will be haunted by this novel for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed the immersive reading experience as the story is told by four different narrators, each a relative of the Compson family, who have a habit of jumping back and forth between the present and various family memories at any given time. Thus you have to be alert when reading the novel and to a certain extent put clues together to work out what is happening. The characters are three dimensional, very unreliable and in some cases extremely disturbed, our opening narrator Benjy is mentally handicapped. The plot covers some dark topics including incest and racism. I found the first two parts of the four-part novel to be the most enjoyable with Benjy, Caddie and Quentin being my favourite, though extremely flawed, characters. I found Jason’s narrative particularly difficult to read due to his aggressive, hateful nature. I rated this novel five stars as I loved Faulkner’s writing and found the characters seemed, if anything, all-too real.

 

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I then had the privilege of  diving back into Sui Ishida‘s world Tokyo Ghoul. I’m surprised this is the only volume I have read thus far in 2017 having read volumes 1-6 last year. I, as usual, really enjoyed this volume giving it four out of five stars on Goodreads. However I found this instalment to be less complex than the others, sadly volume 7 seems to act as a filler in the series. Nevertheless I enjoyed being back in the world of ghouls and catching up with all of the characters that I loved. This volume in particular focused on torture and the human psyche.

 

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I read the first Volume of Monster by Naoki Urasawa on Halloween this year and was desperate to read more. After reading Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul I decided to pick up Volume 2 of Monster. I was challenged to read the first instalment by my younger sister who has a slight obsession with the series and I was not disappointed. This is a supernatural detective series based in Germany with the main character being a top surgeon turned unemployed independent investigator, Tenma. So far it is a cat-and-mouse chase between good and evil. What’s not to love? I gave this volume five stars and loved the new characters who were introduced.

 

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I then read The Waves by Virginia Woolf. This was also a very immersive reading experience as we are constantly reading different people’s perspectives, Woolf’s novella centres around a group of friends, the narrative voice switches between these characters after almost every paragraph. While I enjoyed this novella, I prefer To The Lighthouse. I look forward to reading more of Woolf’s novels in the future. I left this novella unrated as although I enjoy the book and its experimental form, I did not enjoy all of its characters finding some, particularly Bernard, rather boring.  

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Having read a short story collection, some classic novels and some Manga, I decided to broaden my reading by including some YA novels in this challenge. They are also faster to read which may have been an essential part of my reasoning.  I decided to finish off a series by reading the third and final instalment in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken: In The Afterlight. This trilogy is basically X-Men except there are only five possible power groups and everyone who has mutated is of the same generation, the trilogy begins in one of the prisons set up to home these children and young adults and keep them apart from normal, less dangerous, society. While the trilogy is flawed in terms of the writing style and certain clichés littered throughout the storytelling,  I enjoyed the power system and the portrayal of friendship and found the messy ending realistic and appropriate.

 

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The second Young Adult novel I read this month was another recommended read by another younger sister, Angelfall by Susan Ee. This is another dystopia where Angels have come and tortured our mortal world. The novel is set in a ruined-cities, fight and steal for your food world in which the main character Penryn scrounges with her family: her mother and her disabled younger sister. At the beginning of the novel Penryn witnesses an unfair fight between Angels, her sister makes a noise that draws attention to her family so Penryn is forced to help the outnumbered Angel, by giving him back his weapon, so that the fight can continue and her family can escape. This fails and her sister is taken by one of the other Angels so Penryn forces the wounded, outnumbered Angel to take her to the home of Angels to retrieve her sister. While I enjoyed this novel I will not be continuing with the series.

 

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Having read some YA, I returned to Classic novels by reading another recommended novel, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I loved this novel! What I loved about this novel was the relatable, every-day-life lens in which we gain insight into this completely foreign (to modern readers) nightmarish world of Auschwitz. I found that this was done really well with the book opening in 1947 with our narrator, Stingo being fascinated by his neighbour Sophie and her toxic relationship with Nathan. Therefore we first see Sophie outside of the War and outside of herself as we only ever see her as Stingo sees her. Although her choice is obvious to modern readers, it is not revealed until, I believe, the last fifty pages of this over 600 page novel. Similarly to Frankenstein, I did not go into this novel blind, having always known some aspects of the plot and yet I also found this novel to be nothing at all as I expected it to be. Central unexpected themes of this novel include Sex and Drugs and Poverty. I also gave this novel five stars on Goodreads.

 

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The ninth book I read this month is Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I picked this novel up due to the heavy themes in Sophie’s Choice, I thought it best to read something more fast paced (although I read Sophie’s Choice in two days) and less complex. However, this novel is unexpectedly layered.

Night Film is a multi-media thriller with perhaps supernatural elements? The novel opens with the apparent suicide of a 24 year old girl named Ashley Cordova, daughter of illusive cult-horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Cordova’s films have spawned true-crime and as a result are banned, they are sold illegally and watched underground. There are many myths and legends surrounding the family. The narrator’s career in journalism was ruined when sued for slander years previously by Cordova himself.  At the beginning of the novel he decides to investigate the death of Cordova’s daughter as an opportunity to learn more on the family and is joined by two secondary characters, both with connections to Ashley, in his quest for the truth. There are some scenes in the novel that could be classed as Horror however the novel is primarily detective fiction, the ending is ambiguous and the subject of controversy. The novel also has interactive elements, different video clips etc you can access on your smart phone.

Personally, I enjoyed the ambiguous ending and have my own preferred theory which I obviously will not disclose here. There were some parts of the novel where I felt the pacing was wrong and one or two theories I felt were out of place however I enjoyed the fact that this is a somewhat messy read, if you like stories and relationships to be rounded off perfectly I would avoid reading Night Film. I will definitely be reading more of Pessl’s fiction, I gave this novel four out of five stars.

 

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Then I purchased and read the latest volume of The Ghastling: ‘Tales of the Macabre, Ghosts and the oh-so Strange’ edited by Rebecca Parfitt.  I would highly recommend this collection especially for this time of year! There are nine spooky stories in the collection, each vastly different in content and atmosphere. My three favourites are ‘Heartwood’ by Carly Holmes about a mother who is part-tree, this one I found to be one of the less scary stories in the collection but loved the Gothic-fairytale feel, ‘At The Stroke’ by Laura Maria Grierson which is a family tale about a broken Grandfather clock and a dying mother, this has a creepy, haunting undertone to the narrative and ‘The Last Laugh’ about an arcade worker and a laughing clown machine which is as menacing as it sounds. Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that can be revisited in the future.

 

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So far I’ve had a very fortunate experience with this challenge, I am doing well with the number of books read so far. More importantly, the quality of the books have been high. I hope this continues throughout the challenge and that it remains enjoyable. Wish me luck,

 

Sophie

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Love it or Hate it Book Tag

 

3 of your favourite books?

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Graduate by Charles Webb

3 of your least favourite books?

Paper Towns by John Green

Blow Your House Down by Pat Barker

The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer

3 of your favourite characters?

Hassan from The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Hans from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

3 least favourite characters?

Anyone/Everyone written by John Green and Sarah Waters.

Biggest let-down?

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Books that you liked that other people hated?

Frankenstein was pretty unpopular throughout my education. I also loved The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger which is famous for dividing opinion.

Characters that people love but you hated?

Again, every John Green character. I also did not care for Elizabeth or Darcy to put it lightly. This tag is practically the Unpopular Opinions tag part two.

Best Quotes?

I’m generally not good at remembering quotes offhand when asked, here are a few memorable ones:

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
― Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray

“It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThis Side of Paradise

“We were together. I forget the rest.”
― Walt Whitman

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
― William ShakespeareAs You Like It

“But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.”
― Daphne du Maurier

Worst Quotes?

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars …..“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars.  “So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” ― John GreenLooking for AlaskaIf I had to give one reason why I dislike John Green it’s his obsession with poor metaphors, and his need to explain that they are metaphors.

Ok so this is a weird one but it makes me uncomfortable: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ― L.M. Montgomery. I think it’s the ‘yet.’

“If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.”
― David SedarisBarrel Fever: Stories and Essays

Books you didn’t finish?

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

 

What book have you read the most times?

In all honesty it would definitely be The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.

 

Series where the first book was amazing but went downhill from there?

The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I read these last year and while I enjoyed the first novel I hated the others. My ratings on Goodreads actually halved with each instalment.

 

Sophie

Classics Book Tag

As 2017 is my ‘Year of Classics’ I decided it would be a fun experiment to do this tag at the beginning of the year and once more at the end to see how my answers change and to log my progress. I believe this tag was created by ‘Itsabooksworld’.

  1. An overhyped classic you didn’t really like: 31h1+FJLo2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFor this category I have to go with Vonnegut’s cult classic Slaughterhouse Five. I had to read this novel/novella for University and unfortunately found it boring and forgettable. I understand however that I am the minority here. There are many overhyped classics I personally dislike for example Pride&Prejudice, Lolita and The Man in the High Castle. If you also didn’t enjoy these famous novels, have you enjoyed other works by the same authors? If so please leave a comment. 

 

2. Favourite time period to read about:  I personally enjoy novels set in the Victorian and Romantic eras. I also like the 1920s and The Lost Generation writers.

 

3. Favourite Fairytale: I hope to read many fairytales this year especially Rumplestiltskin. Until now my favourite fairytale is the wonderfully quirky and unique The Light Princess by George MacDonald.

 

4. What Classic are you embarrassed about not having read: While I wouldn’t say embarrassed I am disappointed that I haven’t read For Whom the Bell Tolls and Middlemarch

 

5. Top 5 Classics you would like to read soon:          

I would like to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville as I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a long time. The problem is that I find its size intimidating. Walden by Henry David Thoreau is also at the top of my list. I’ve wanted to read this novel since watching Dead Poets Society, a movie that I absolutely adore. I am also interested in reading Thomas Hardy which I have not yet done and was intrigued by the movie trailer of Far From the Madding Crowd. I have read the first few pages of The Hobbit and liked the writing style. I am also, along with the rest of the world, a huge fan of the LOTR movies and hope to read that trilogy also. I am a huge fan of F Scott Fitzgerald and have read his other works, The Last Tycoon is his last and unfinished novel which I have been putting off for obvious reasons. I hope to get around to reading it this year.

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6.Favourite modern book/series based on a classic: Unfortunately I have not read many adaptations of classics although I am really excited to read Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Hours by Michael Cunningham alongside each other this year. I have read that His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is an adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost although I have only read exerts of Milton’s classic, from what I’ve read so far I can say I love both novels. I have read two fairytale retellings that I enjoyed  which are Cinder by Marissa Meyer and The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy.  

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7.Favourite movie/tv series based on a classic: For this category I have chosen the 1975 adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey starring Jack Nicholson which I like more than the Kesey’s novel. I also adore the Henry Fonda adapation of 12 Angry Men. MV5BODQwOTc5MDM2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQxNTEzNA@@._V1_UY1200_CR85,0,630,1200_AL_.jpgOne_Flew_Over_the_Cuckoo's_Nest_poster.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Worst Classic book to screen adaptation: Every adaptation of Frankenstein ever made.

 

9. Favourite editions you’d like to collect more of: Penguin Drop Caps, Roads Classics, The Virago Modern Classics, Vintage Classics, Picador 40th Anniversary Classics, Puffin Classics, Penguin Clothbound Classics and the list goes on…

 

10. An underhyped Classic you’d recommend to everyone: The Lifted Veil by George Elliot, The Graduate by Charles Webb, White Noise by Don Delillo and This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Sophie

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