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

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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

 

 

Review: Why Not Me?

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So I deviated from my 5books7days tbr, made an audible account and downloaded Kaling’s second novel ‘Why Not Me?’ You can find out why by checking out my last post. I do not regret this decision. Being a huge fan of Kaling’s writing and general personality I had previously read her first novel ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ and watched pretty much everything I know of that she has worked on and appeared in.

Having read and loved her first novel, I expected to laugh at her second. I was not, however, expecting tears. I cried when Mindy discussed her The Office co-star, fellow author and movie star friend BJ Novak. I was deeply moved when she openly discussed her heartbreaks and grief. I also cried during the acknowledgements- just when I thought I was safe!! That is not to say that this is a depressing read. I laughed out loud numerous times while listening which may have made me look like a complete psycho, so thanks for that Mindy. Her writing and opinions are honest, witty and relatable making Why Not Me? an entertaining read for everyone.  I would also recommend the audio book as hearing her thoughts in her own voice makes her novel all the more moving and hilarious.

It is refreshing to hear/read such a successful multi-talented, internationally known personality talking openly to her fans about her flaws, her mistakes, her fears and her hopes. Kaling gives us insights into the behind the scenes events of A-list events and the generally misleading world of show-business. Her sense of humour is bold and unapologetic without being offensive which is quite a feat. Kaling explains the difference between her novels as the first was about her wanting to be liked, the second about her wanting to be known. Despite her constant insistence that she is not a real level-headed grown-up she comes across as a driven role model who has worked hard for her career and makes it clear she will continue to do so. She intelligently references classic literature and poetry, discusses her mentors and also features her Harvard commencement speech.

Kaling does not shy from heavy topics, talking openly about depression. Kaling describes depression as the high price you pay to be gifted and tells readers that the funniest people are often depressed. This reminded me of my favourite funny man Robin Williams.

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Robin Williams fan art by www.emilystepp.deviantart.com

This is all the more impressive when she states that she is not a sufferer of depression herself but would like to speak out about it and show her support nonetheless. This is yet another example of her using her fame for change as well as demonstrating her love of people. She opens up about her experience with anxiety telling readers she has lost sleep at night worrying about being fired. She lists common every day worries and causes of anxiety which are very relatable ranging from forgetting things to family matters to identity crises. When Kaling tells us she often worries about whether or not she will forget her mother’s voice it is impossible not to be both moved and in awe of her honest reflections. Kaling also shows gratitude for her more often than not cheery personality which we all love.

Towards the end of the novel she addresses a teenage girl who asked her a question once. She regretted her answer even though she was put on the spot, here we can see like anyone who suffers from anxiety this has really played on her mind. Her chapter/essay is dedicated to this particular girl giving her the answer and apology Kaling believes she deserves, through this we can see just how much Kaling cares about her fans and her influence. Throughout her novel Kaling has proved what an amazing role model she is. Why Not Me? does not only prove women can be funny but that celebrities can be honest and caring instead of self-obsessed. In Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling is yet again giving her fans a true insight into her life without sugar coating or emitting the hard parts.

The last chapter of her novel again brings the focus back to hard work. Thus inspiring her fans to be career driven. She destigmatises hard work and explains that she does not know anyone in show business who does not work hard. Rounding her novel off she hopes to inspire her attitude towards her critics, reinstating the overall message of her novel- be driven, be confident, be honest and do not give up. Or in Kaling’s language:

“Work hard, know you shit, show your shit and then feel entitled. Listen to n0-one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know (and that doesn’t always mean your parents) Do that and you will be fine.”

5/5

Sophie

5books7days update!

So we are now three days in to Lottelikesbooks 5books7days readathon and this is where we are at:

Sophie: Currently I am simultaneously reading books three, four and five of the challenge. Also I shamefully confess that two of my current reads were not in my original TBR. I began well, I read The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt (4/5) and The Revenant by Michael Punke. If you would like to see a review on either of these books then please comment. Or visit my goodreads page for a short review on The Revenant (2/5.) However, I managed to injure myself yesterday and it was pretty gory. Do not read The Revenant when wounded. You will most definitely get horrifying nightmares. I should probably say what you are all thinking which is that compared to Glass’s my injury was nothing and this overreaction makes me extremely pathetic.

It was during this time that I put down The Revenant, because of the injury but also because it’s such a heavy and depressing read and I was already infuriatingly self-pitying. So I did the only reasonable and logical thing and instead joined Audible. I downloaded Mindy Kaling’s second novel Why Not Me? that she narrates herself. This better suited the mood I was in, Kaling is so witty, funny and relatable I was instantly cheered up. I am currently 3 hours in which is just over half-way. I have already laughed and cried.

I finished The Revenant this morning and started reading Sky Burial which is one of my beautiful penguin drop caps by Xinran. This book is amazing! Xinran, for those of you who don’t know, is one of China’s most successful journalists and Sky Burial is her novel about a story she was told by Shu Wen a Chinese woman who spent over 30 years searching for her husband in Tibet. I am also half way through this novel and I am in awe, the relationships in this novel are incredible. I don’t know if I have ever rooted for someone as much as I do for Shu Wen. I would recommend this novel to anyone, the imagery is incredible and I promise you will surely care for the characters as deeply as I do.

The third book I am currently reading which was not on my TBR arrived today. I won this book through Goodreads and the author has very kindly signed my copy. The novel is titled A Tiny Feeling of Fear and it is written by M.Jonathan Lee. I am really excited about this book so I decided to start reading it straight away. I will do a full review at the end because I know it is not as well known as it should be (based on the first three chapters) So far I think it’s similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events and Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (Both of which I love)

The two books that are left from my readathon TBR are Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud and A Spool of Blue Thread, if all goes well maybe I can read them too. Only time will tell. Danny is a little behind schedule and will post his update later tonight.