Recent Reads (2)

I’ve been wanting to talk about these books for a while but I don’t have enough to say about each for a full review.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust had been sitting on my shelves unread for like a year. Since I end up watching the film pretty much every time it’s on TV I figured that I should finally pick it up and read it. I really enjoyed it, even though it’s completely different from the film. The plot is basically the same but some of the best characters from the film like Captain Shakespeare aren’t in it. I enjoyed the writing style, it’s written in the style of fairy tales and is pretty simple.

Black Friday by Robert Muchamore

Black Friday is the final book of the Aramov trilogy. I had been waiting a year to read it and it didn’t disappoint. I loved that James Adams the main character from the previous Cherub series was brought back.

Miss Peregrines home for peculiar children by Ransom Riggs

I’d been wanting to read Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children since I heard about it years ago. I loved the idea that it contained real old pictures and I was expecting it to be really good. It turned out to be kind of average so I was disappointed. I think that’s sort of my fault though because I built it up too much in my head. If you like books that feature supernatural people who are being hunted by other supernatural people you’ll enjoy Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children.

Girl of nightmares by Kendare Blake

This book was hugely disappointing. When I read Anna Dressed in Blood I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what going to happen. With this one I had to force myself to keep reading instead of putting it down.  I found it kind of boring as most of the book is spent building up to the ending. It just lacked everything that was good about the first book. [The first book had awesome/interesting ghosts, murder and ghost hunting. Plus a really good ending]  In my opinion Anna Dressed in Blood could have been left as a stand alone book.

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold is the best Game of Thrones book I’ve read so far. (I’m still currently reading the next book A Feast for Crows) It’s ridiculously action packed and is basically death after death after death.

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Recent Reads

I’ve been wanting to talk about these books for a while but I don’t have enough to say about each for a full review.

How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran

I found this book really problematic mainly because of the authors choice of words and phrases. Like there’s a bit about 100 or so pages in where she casually compares something to (and I’m directly quoting here) ‘that Vietnamese kid covered in napalm’ and another part where she decides that she’s against people wearing the Burka and says that ‘my politeness accepts your choice’. That just seems wrong to me.

If you consider yourself a feminist I wouldn’t recommend that you read this book, especially as the author doesn’t seem to believe that feminism is intersectional. This book is full of sweeping generalisations and offensive language (I’m not talking about swearwords).

Sever by Lauren Destefano

Sever was disappointing, I only really picked it up because I can’t leave a series unfinished once I start it.  To talk about it I need to reveal major plot details so SPOILER WARNING. This book was a mess, the author managed to go back on all the world building in the first two books and killed off two main characters in about as many chapters.

Call the Midwife trilogy by Jennifer Worth

Earlier this year I kind of fell in love with the BBC TV show Call The Midwife (even though it’s not really aimed at people my age). So when I saw that my local library had the books the show was based off I decided to read them. The Call the Midwife trilogy which consists of Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East end, are three memoirs written by Jennifer Worth who was a nurse in the east end of London in the 1950’s. I found them fascinating, not really the childbirth stuff more the stuff about how people used to live. It’s amazing how much London and this country has changed.

Classics

As you can see this post is going to be about classics. I thought that I would talk about some of my favourites and least favourites.

Favourites

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The first time I read this book I actually hated it, probably because at the time I was 14 and being forced to read it by my teachers.  About two years after that I had to read it again at school and I realised just how good it actually is. Steinbeck writes in a way that really makes you connect to the characters and understand their situations, like how George always has to look after Lennie because he is a danger to himself and others.  The only character in this book that I dislike is Curley because he’s creepy (the whole glove Vaseline thing is gross), petty and treats his wife like crap. Of Mice and Men is a great book despite how sad it is.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I only read this book recently and I was surprised by how timeless Orwell’s writing is. The book was written in the 1950’s but the language and style of writing could have come from any modern novel. Animal farm tells the story of a farm where the animals overthrow the farmer and begin ruling themselves. I really love the characters of Boxer, Benjamin and Clover. The book also contains one of my least favourite characters in literature, Squealer.  Squealer is one of those rare characters that make me want to throw the book across the room (the other is Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix), I just hate the way he manipulates the other characters.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice had been on my to read list forever but I always put off reading it because I don’t really like loves stories or books that feature romance. Anyway The Lizzie Bennet diaries finally convinced me to read it last September and I really enjoyed it. When I was reading it i didn’t really like it for the first half because I found Lydia and Mr Collins annoying. But then the bit with the letter happened and I really wanted Lizzy and Darcy to be together.

I actually find it kind of mind blowing how a book which was written 200 years ago is still being picked up and loved by new readers.

Least Favourites

(I finished this list and then realised that all the ones I dislike seem to be plays)

A view from the bridge by Arthur Miller

This is another book that I was made to read at school and unlike most of the others we had to read I hated it. I just didn’t find the plot interesting and I found the characters really annoying (especially Eddie). Also I don’t think that my teacher picking the slowest readers in the world to do the parts of the different characters helped.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I don’t get why people think that Romeo and Juliet is such an epic love story. It’s not, it’s the story of two stupid teenagers (seriously Juliet is supposed to be 13 and who isn’t stupid at 13) who fall in lust, get married and end up killing about six people including themselves. Also don’t get me started on the film, if you’re going to set a film in the modern day have them speak modern English not Shakespeare English.

What is your favourite or least favourite classic?

Really Good Film Adaptations.

[This was originally written in December 2012]

It seems like the majority of the films that are coming out early next year are adaptations of books (Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, Cloud Atlas etc) . I want to talk about some adaptations that are really good and one which is absolutely terrible.

Harry potter and the philosopher’s stone
As we all know Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone is the first of the Harry Potter books and films. It isn’t my favourite but it is one of the best of all eight films. This is because it had to be good, if it wasn’t I doubt that any of the other books would have been adapted. The philosopher’s stone was our first look at the world we had read about and it kept to the story much more than some of the later ones (Goblet of fire/ Half blood prince).

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Based on the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, this film isn’t exactly the same but it has the same spirit. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are really good as Nick and Norah. I enjoy both the book and the film.

Let The Right One In (original Swedish version)
Let The Right One in is the only book I have ever read where I liked the film adaptation more that I liked the book. I actually only picked up the book because I loved the film so much. I like how the film keeps all the key parts of the book and displays them in a way that isn’t as graphic and disturbing. If you’ve read the book you’ll know how gross some of it is. I also like that they kept Eli’s gender ambiguous (a key part of the book) unlike the american remake with changed the name entirely to Abby so that they didn’t have to deal with that.

Matilda
I’m slightly ashamed to say this but I’ve never actually read Matilda. Despite this I think we can all agree that the film adaptation is great even though it’s set in America and not England. I have really great memories of watching it as a kid and get reminded of it every time I hear that song that goes ‘on my way’.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World
Based on the 6 Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, this film sticks almost completely to original story. In fact there are scenes which look identical to images in the graphic novels. It’s one of my favourite films and I love the onscreen effects that make it seem like a video game.

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey
This is the first of three films based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I went to see it the other day and I absolutely loved it. The whole film looks amazing, Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo and The dwarves are awesome and sometimes hilarious. It’s just a really really good film and I definitely recommend that you go and see it.

An absolutely terrible adaptation is The Golden Compass which is based on Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. Ugh it’s just so bad, It’s like the producers cared more about the actors and the special effects than the story. I’m glad they haven’t tried to do The Subtle Knife.

My favourite books with female protagonists written by female authors.

[This post was originally written in August 2012, I’m moving it from my old blog to this one]

This list is inspired by The Lady Survey that was going around YouTube.

0501. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

 When Liz is killed by a hit-and-run driver her ‘life’ takes an unexpected turn. But in Elsewhere all things carry on almost as they did on earth expect that the inhabitants get younger, new relationships are formed and old ones, which had been sadly interrupted, are renewed.    

Elsewhere has been a favourite of mine since I first read it back when I was about 14. I love Liz and her relationships with the people around her as she tries to fit into and accept the new place/ situation that she is in.

This book is a new and well written take on what happens after we die. I highly recommend that you read it.

0512. Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins.

Jazz Gardner is heading off to India during the monsoon season to help out at an orphanage, more specifically the orphanage her mother grew up in. But going to India isn’t Jazz’s idea of a great summer holiday as she doesn’t want to leave behind her best friend Steve and the business they own together. Only when she befriends Danita, a girl who cooks for her family, does Jazz begin to see just how much she can make a difference.  

This book is another of my favourites.  When the book starts Jazz is independent but also quite insecure. Over the course of the book she grows a lot as a character.

0533. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.   

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boy and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When 16 year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sisters place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

The hunger Games is one of those books that is impossible to put down once you start reading it. Katniss is a well written character who cares more about her family than anything else. One of the things I like most about her is that she isn’t particularly interested in or happy about the love triangle (wow I really hate those words) that forms around her over the course of the trilogy. There’s a quote I like from Mockingjay which shows this … ‘The very notion that I’m devoting any thought to who I want presented as my lover, given our current circumstances, is demeaning.’

0484. Feed by Mira Grant. 

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them. 

Feed is an awesome combination of post-apocalyptic zombie story and political thriller. Georgia (the protagonist) is a badass but what I love most about her is that she doesn’t fit any of the standard YA clichés. She’s 23, has a job and parents and isn’t involved in any love triangles.

0495. Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler.

Mara Valentine is in control. She’s a straight A student and strict vegan, she’s heading to a top university in the fall and even has her remaining months in Brockport all planned out. Mara’s plan does not involve having V, her slutty, weed-smoking 16 year old niece – yes niece – coming to live with the family. Before Mara knows it, things are spinning wildly out of control.     

0526. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.


Unlike the other books on this list Beauty Queens has not one but a dozen female protagonists, each with their own individual story and issues. Beauty queens is quite light hearted and sometimes a little bit silly but it manages to tackle some serious issues like the objectification and exploitation of women and being comfortable with your sexuality.