Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2016

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Feb 16

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Holy Cow by David Duchovny, Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas, Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown, Hawkeye: L.A. Woman (Hawkeye #3) by Matt Fraction, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, Azumanga Daioh Volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 2 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Close Range: Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories by Annie Proulx, A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab and Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari.

I was lucky enough to receive and read not one, but two amazing releases that I’d been anticipating this month: Morning Star and A Gathering of Shadows. Both were so, so fantastic and definitely worth the wait. I also did quite a few re-reads: Crown of Midnight and the Azumanga Daioh series, which is completely adorable. If you want to try a new manga, I highly recommend it – especially if you’ve not read any before, it’s quite a good way to ease yourself into it. I also read Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari, who I love on Parks & Recreation. The book wasn’t quite as funny as expected, but wow it was an interesting read.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge, and was able to defeat Mystique, February’s villain! March’s villain is Poison Ivy.
  • I have currently read 26 books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

The Sisters of Versailles

How was February for you?

Thoughts

Thoughts #43: My Favourite Manga/Anime

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When I was younger, I was really into anime and manga. This started at about the age of 14 or 15, and carried on until I was about 20 or so. Whilst I no longer read manga or watch anime on a regular basis, there are a few series that have really stuck with me, ones that I know I can go back to whenever.

Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket

My first ever manga series, and the source of my online name, I absolutely fell in love with Fruits Basket when I first read/watched it. It’s about a young girl called Tohru who, through various circumstances, ends up living with the Sohma family. However, the Sohmas have a slight problem – the family has been cursed for generations, with 12 members of the family at each time transforming into an animal of the zodiac when under great stress or when they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex. It sounds very silly – but it’s honestly one of the most heartbreaking and wonderful series ever. I love every character, and Tohru is an adorable protagonist.

Death Note

Death Note

Oh Death Note. I remember the day I first watched you – I popped on the DVD, and eight episodes later, I was still sat there. This series is about a young, highly intelligent student called Light who discovers that when he writes names in a certain notebook, those people die. He can also dictate way and time of death. What begins as a crusade to rid the world of criminals turns into a high profile police case, which Light himself becomes involved in as part of the investigation team. This series is so so wonderfully dark and amazing – and the manga artwork is just fantastic. In fact, since it’s on Netflix I may have to do a re-watch…

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh is one of those series I can put on when I’m feeling down and it will pick me up. The manga is presented in comic strips of four panels (although some stories cover slightly more), with humorous little stories in each. The anime explores some of these panels further, but is generally very loyal. It follows a young girl called Chiyo, who enters high school at the age of 11. A child genius, she soon finds herself an eclectic group of friends, each with their own zany personalities. One of the funniest mangas I’ve ever read.

K-ON!

K-On!

K-ON! was an absolute delight to watch – admittedly I haven’t read the manga. It’s about a girl who decides to revive her school’s music club, and the girls who end up joining. Together they form a band, and each episode pretty much revolves around their practice sessions – or lack of them. This series has produced some wonderful songs too.

Absolute Boyfriend

Absolute Boyfriend

The plot of Absolute Boyfriend is rather… well, typically manga/anime. A young girl accidentally orders an android boyfriend online, and after discovering she missed the deadline for the ‘trial period’, she has to pay for him. Okay, it sounds really really weird – but it’s actually seriously cute.

What are some of your favourite manga/anime series?

Misc.

Reads for April Fools’ Day

April Fool's Day

Yes, it’s the first day of April, which means it’s also April Fool’s Day! Have you played any evil tricks yet? Spotted any funny jokes or pranks? Today I thought I’d share some of the funniest and most humorous books that I’ve read, perfect for a day like today.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Oh Miranda, how I love you so. If you’ve not heard of the wonderful Miranda Hart, she is a British comedian and actress, and absolutely 100% relatable – and hilarious. Her sitcom, Miranda, is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a single woman in her mid-thirties (34 IS LATE TWENTIES!) who runs a joke & gift shop. Miranda manages to get herself into the most awkward of situations, is quite possibly the clumsiest person alive as well as just slightly socially inept… Many of the things that happen to Miranda in the sitcom actually happened in real life, either to Miranda Hart or people she knows. In this book, she discusses some of the more embarrassing horrors she’s lived through, so prepare to both laugh out loud and cringe – but it’s SUCH FUN!

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Anything by Bill Bryson

I think I’ve mentioned Bill Bryson on the blog a couple of times before, but if you’re looking to start reading some travel writing then in my opinion, he is definitely the place to start. With a wonderful sense of humour and a brilliant way of turning even a mundane story into something amusing, each of his travel books have never failed to make me laugh. He has a way of observing and noticing things that might not be fascinating on first glance. He’s written about travelling through Europe, along the Appalachian Trial, Australia, Great Britain and the USA (on several occasions), as well as an autobiography.

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

One of my favourite manga series, Azumanga Daioh is the tale of a group of high school girls, and centered around the character of Chiyo. Chiyo is a child prodigy, already approaching the end of high school at the age of eleven. Her friends are a group of misfits: the sporty one, the clever one, the ditzy one, the tomboyish one, the mischievous one, but these stereotypes don’t get old. Unlike many manga, it’s presented in four-panel comic strips – some are continuations of ones before, but mostly you get a new story every page. It’s absolutely hilarious and also completely adorable.

Mort by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

Pretty much any of the Discworld books are perfect if you want a humorous read. Terry Pratchett’s unique and brilliant sense of humour is unparalleled. My particular favourite of his is Mort, but with over forty books in the series alone there’s plenty of choice. And you don’t even need to read the series in order: some characters occupy multiple books, some only appear the once, plotlines and events vary greatly, and he’s even written some for children. But you can guarantee that each one will have you laughing.

What are some of the funniest books you’ve read? Do you have any recommendations?

Thoughts

Thoughts #1: Favourite ‘Comfort’ Books

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I have had a bit of a rubbish time lately, and it made me think about my favourite books to read when I’m feeling down. These are what I call my ‘comfort’ books – books that I can escape into, no matter how I’m feeling. They tend to be books I’ve read countless times, so they’re very familiar. I’d love to know if any of you do this too (I’m sure you do!)

Bridget Jones’ Diary & Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding

 

I’m really not one for chick lit. But I absolutely love the Bridget Jones books – they are funny and honestly just make me really happy (even when Bridget is down…). The same with the films, even with Hugh Grant playing the same character as he always does. I also like these books because Bridget is a very real character. She is a woman in her early thirties, unmarried, worrying about her body, appearance and lack of a husband, but she still enjoys life. She has real problems: trying to quit smoking, losing weight, unsuccessful flirting/dates. Yet everything that goes wrong for Bridget only works to make the books funnier – even when she gets thrown into prison in Thailand for (unknowingly) trying to smuggle drugs out of the country.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

A very unsurprising entry, I’m sure. Harry Potter is a series that I have grown up with – and quite literally with the films. When the first film came out, I was eleven, so the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Despite being about magic, it’s such an accessible series because it’s set in our world, and you could easily imagine that there really is this secretive, magical side of our world (I know they are, it’s just a trick for the Muggles, okay?). And I’ve read them so many times I can jump into the series at any book, any chapter and know what has already happened.

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohoko Azuma


I don’t read anywhere near as much manga as I used to, the same for anime. I guess I’ve just passed that stage now – although I really want to catch up on Fairy Tail, I got to episode 131 and now it must be around 160. However, I do still have a couple of boxsets and book series, Azumanga Daioh being one of them. A short series about an incredibly intelligent eleven year old who skips several grades, and her high school friends, it is portrayed through four-panel comics. It is sweet and funny, and I can read/watch it again and again. If you’re not a particular anime/manga fan, but perhaps were interested in watching or reading some, this would be the series I’d recommend – it doesn’t start you off in the deep end.

And finally..

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

This might be an odd choice for a ‘comfort’ book, since it’s a rather hefty volume (or three). But I’ve read The Lord of the Rings so many times – each book at least once a year since I was ten, and I am twenty-two next week – that I can pick it up anywhere and know what’s going on. There’s just something about escaping to Middle-earth that makes me feel better. And what problems of mine could be worse that what Frodo is facing? 😉 I am guessing that I have read The Fellowship of the Ring the most, judging by its condition… it is falling apart. I played Lord of the Rings Online for a year or so (although I haven’t played since about May or June), and the most exciting part of the game for me was exploring this world that I’d read so much about. I don’t want to uninstall the game, even though I never play, just so I know that I can go and explore Middle-earth if I feel like it. Naturally, my main character is a hobbit…

What are your favourite ‘comfort’ books?