Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: December 2015

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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.

 

Spectacles Bridget Jones Bridget Jones Midnight Never Come Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Will Grayson An Ice Cold Grave The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde At Home Half Bad The 100 The Dinner

 

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Spectacles by Sue Perkins, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2) by Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’ Diary (Bridget Jones #1) by Helen Fielding, Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court #1) by Marie Brennan, Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green, An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connolly #3) by Charlaine Harris, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, Half Bad (Half Bad #1) by Sally Green, The 100 (The 100 #1) by Kass Morgan and The Dinner by Herman Koch.

December saw three re-reads, two because I just fancied re-reading them when I was at my parents’ for Christmas (both Bridget Jones books), and the other in preparation for my Throne of Glass readalong! In terms of a standout book for December, I’d have to go for Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. I’ve always loved Bryson, he has a fantastic way of writing that makes just about anything interesting – proven once again by this book, where I was entranced by the history of everyday objects such as the lightbulb or the staircase…

 

Challenge progress:

  • The DC vs Marvel Challenge is now done and dusted, although I didn’t manage to complete it entirely! 2016 sees another version of the challenge, run once again by the wonderful Michael.
  • I beat my Goodreads goal – originally 52, then 75, then 100 books! 2015 saw me read 102 books.

 

Currently reading:

Cress
How was December for you?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #45: Contemporary for Cynics

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I’m not typically one for contemporary fiction. I tend to like my books with adventure, time travel, dragons or wizards. But occasionally I find a contemporary novel that really works for me. Therefore I wanted to share those particular novels here for my fellow contemporary cynics!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

I won Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell from a fellow blogger (thank you Lianne!), and I am SO glad I did, because I’m not sure if I would have picked out for myself. It would appeal to anyone who considers themself to be part of a fandom, or is particularly passionate about a book, television show etc. Cath is so relatable, definitely someone for bookworms to connect with. The romance is sweet and genuine, born from a friendship rather than any kind of insta-love. For some, this might hit home – the worries of starting university (or a new job etc) as an introvert, meeting new people, socialising. Fangirl gets what it means to be an introvert and passionate, and is definitely a recommendation for people who feel like they fit either category.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The main reason I picked up We Were Liars was due to the hype – so when it was £0.99 on the Kindle store, I thought why not? It reminded me, at least at the start, of the summers I’d always wished for as a child – the kind where each day presents a new and magical adventure, where the summer passes in a slow, warm state of bliss. However, there is much more to We Were Liars than a bunch of rich kids enjoying their summer. It has much more depth to it than you initially realise, and the ending may leave you a little heartbroken.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary has been one of my favourite books for a long, long time. Despite it being part of a genre I tend to avoid – not just contemporary but also ‘chick lit’, I absolutely love it. Bridget is hilarious, a 30-something singleton who fears dying alone and being eaten by alsatians… Her sense of humour is perfect and she manages to get herself into so many ridiculous scenarios. The sequel is also excellent, but the third book, which came out over fifteen years after the first, is one to be avoided…

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon and the Homo Sapien Agenda

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of those Young Adult books I’d heard a lot about, and I thought it sounded a bit John Green-esque. I spotted it in my local library and thought I’d give it a shot. I made the mistake of starting this late at night, and then had to stay up far too late to finish it in one go. I read it in 2 and a half hours because I HAD to know who Blue was. I’m so glad it turned out the way it did! It is a truly adorable tale.

Are there any contemporary titles you would recommend for people who don’t usually read the genre?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: August 2015

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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.

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Last month I read a total of ten books: A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver, The Lola Quartet by Hilary St. John Mandel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S.J. Kincaid, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, The String Diaries (The String Diaries #1) by Stephen Lloyd Jones, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Warbreaker, Catalyst and We Need New Names were the stand out books for August. I was left disappointed by Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy and Landline – mostly they just did not work for me due to my age.

August was a funny month as I was internetless, so it was really difficult to do much for the blog. That will be changing now, however, as I finally have internet – and also Sci-Fi Month to prepare for! 😉

 

Challenge progress:

  • I have currently read 61 books towards my Goodreads goal – which was 50, and I had to raise to 75, hoping to raise it again before the end of the year!

 

Currently reading:

Twelve Kings
How was August for you?

Misc.

A to Z Bookish Survey

 
When I saw this great bookish survey created by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner, I knew I had to join in. Credit also goes to Jamie for the image above.
 
Author you’ve read the most books from:
Natsuki Takaya, due to reading all of the Fruits Basket manga – after that it’s Jacqueline Wilson. I loved her when I was younger. But if we’re talking about authors I still read, then it’s Terry Pratchett.
 
Best sequel ever:
I’m going to cheat and say sequels, with the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. I really can’t decide which of the books is my favourite, they’re all amazing and build perfectly upon each other.
 
Currently reading:
The Returned by Jason Mott (for a blog tour) and The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. The latter is taking me far too long to read since I don’t tend to like reading on the Kindle too much. But I better get used to it…

Drink of choice while reading:
Tea. Duh. Though I have been known to indulge in the occasional Southern Comfort and lemonade. Often whilst reading The Southern Vampire Mysteries.
 
E-reader or physical book:
I guess I already answered this one. Definitely a physical book, but I really need to get used to using an e-reader. I’m planning on going to university abroad for my Masters, and I can’t really take my books with me…
 
Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school:
Errmmm. Maybe not in high school/secondary school… but I’d quite like me a bit of Eric Northman, thank you please.
 
 
Glad you gave this book a chance:
Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar. Quite unexpected!
 
Hidden gem book:
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall. I’m afraid that this might get lumped in with all the other YA vampire stuff, when in actual fact it’s a wonderfully written semi-retelling of Dracula, from the point of view of one of his victims. 
 
Important moment in your reading life:
The same as Jamie, and probably many other bloggers: discovering Goodreads. It made it so much easier to keep track of what I was reading/had read, find new books, work out what to read next, and most importantly of all: find fellow-minded book lovers!
 
Just finished:
Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries #4) by Charlaine Harris. For the third time. I recently discussed the series after reading the twelfth and penultimate book, bought the entire five seasons on DVD and started re-reading the series again. As if I don’t have enough to read already without re-reading!
 
Kinds of books you won’t read:
Erotica, pure romance (it’s okay mixed with another genre, and as a minor part of the book, but otherwise I just find it pretty dull), paranormal romance (or rather, I’m more selective), overly graphic books (squeamish), any sort of fiction that pushes religious views on the reader. I’m also not a massive fan of poetry (unless it’s Ovid. Ovid is awesome).
 
Longest book you’ve read:
Hmm… if you count The Lord of the Rings as one volume, then that maybe? One book I’m currently reading – but currently have on hold – is Shogun by James Clavell, which clocks in at around 1200 pages. But most recently, I think it was probably IQ84 Books 1 & 2 by Haruki Murakami, which was amazing and very, very odd – true to his style. Oh, and I can’t be forgetting A Song of Ice and Fire – each book is at least 500 pages long. I’ve read plenty of thick, door-stop books: it comes with being a fan of the fantasy and science fiction genres.
 
Major book hangover because of:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I received a free copy a while ago, but was preparing myself for it because of all the reviews I’d read, people saying they bawled and bawled. Well I finally got round to reading it a few months ago, and I started off like this:
 
 
“Oh I’m so happy to be reading this book, I’ve heard such great things about it from everyone; it’s easy to read and actually quite funny – I was not expecting that. And yeah, it’s quite sad but there’s a lot of humour injected into it, why were people bawling their eyes out?”
 
Then, about three quarters through, just one tiny little moment did this to me:
 
 
“Oh. That’s why.”
 
And from there on out, I was sobbing and bawling until the end of the book, and after. Thanks, John Green. Thanks. (but seriously though, it was amazing)
 
Number of book cases you own:
I myself own two, plus a big shelf for archaeology/ancient history related books, and now the books are escaping onto the mantelpiece… but as for my family – well… look here.
 
One book you have read multiple times:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. I’ve read it at least once every year since I was eleven (apart from last year actually…). So around ten times, I think.
 
Preferred place to read:
 
Quote that inspires you:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

This is something that Jojen Reed says in A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. 

Reading regret:

Not reading much at all during the first two years of university. I felt kind of guilty for reading non-archaeology related books. But I had so much free time! Think of all the books I could have crossed off my ‘to read’ list

Series you’ve started and need to finish (all books are published):

The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons and The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. I just need to read the last book for each of them!

Three of your all-time favourite books:

Ah, this is a hard one! Okay… I’ll pick each from different genres. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy), Hyperion by Dan Simmons (sci-fi) and The Secret History by Donna Tartt (thriller/mystery). There’s so many more I wish I could add to that.

Unapologetic fangirl for:

J.R.R Tolkien and anything to do with Middle-earth. My first foray into website creation was at the age of 13, and I owned several Lord of the Rings related fansites from that age until I was about 17 or 18. I would quite happily live in the Shire.

Very excited for this release more than others:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, because of the wonderful feelings the first two books give me. I hope it lives up to the hype!

Worst bookish habit:

Reading several books at once because I want to hurry up and review them, and thinking that reading several at once will help that. But it doesn’t. Because I flit between them constantly and often pick up another book.

X marks the spot: go to the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Your latest book purchase:

Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks.

ZZZ-snatcher: book that kept you up WAY too late:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I read it for my book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and we pretty much all loved it. I kept thinking ‘one more chapter…’ but it has really short chapters, so I felt cheated and would read one more… then rinse, and repeat.

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?

Top Lists

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Book To Film Adaptations

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I’m taking a break from my Community marathon to join in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a Top Ten Freebie, meaning each blogger can pick their own theme. I’ve looked through the past themes, and chosen:

Top Ten Book to Film Adaptations

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

Films directed by Peter Jackson – one of my favourite book and film series. I know there is plenty that was changed, added or left out, but I believe that Peter Jackson created the very best he could without making something that was days long, nor cutting out too much. I know Tom Bombadil would have been awesome but would he really have been necessary? Yes, it was Glorfindel, not Arwen, who took Frodo to Rivendell and over the Bruinen Ford, but Jackson and co worried that the lack of female characters would cause complaints – and as an avid lover of the books, I have no problem with the creative liberty taken.

2. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Films directed by David Yates, Alfonso Cuaron, Chris Columbus and Mike Newell) – when the first one came out, I was 11 and a massive fan. I was so, so disappointed – and I hated the films until the fourth one. I think they slowly improved with time and now, even though the first few aren’t great, I enjoy them because they’re Harry Potter and they show the changes the series went through. And the cast makes me SO proud of my nationality.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Film directed by Gary Ross – I feel this adaptation was really faithful, and Ross did so well in making it violent but still appropriate for a younger audience. Plus some fantastic casting.

4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Film directed by Steven Spielberg – although the book is a lot more technical (read it if you haven’t!), and the adaptation maybe isn’t as faithful as some, I absolutely love this film. When I was younger I wanted to study dinosaurs – but somehow I ended up as an archaeologist, rather than a palaeontologist!

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Film directed by David Fincher – I somehow feel bad for admitting that I preferred the American version to the original Swedish version, but I just did. Salander was more how I imagined her. Honourable mention to Niels Arden Oplev though!

6. Mrs Doubtfire by Anne Fine

Film directed by Chris Columbus, original book title ‘Madame Doubtfire’ – this is on my list because it’s one of my ‘comfort’ films (for when I’m feeling down), Robin Williams is my favourite actor ever, and this film turned a frankly quite depressing book into something really sweet and funny, but also touching.

7. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Film directed by Sharon Maguire – how did I nearly forget Bridget Jones?! I’ve read and watched it so many times, it’s like an old friend. I’m really not a chick lit/flick person, but I make an exception for these books/films.

8. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Film directed by Clive Donner (1982 version) – so I haven’t actually read the book yet… it’s on my list! But I just can’t ignore Anthony Andrews’ fantastic take on Sir Percival Blakeney (or should I say ‘Blakenehhh…), Baronet. It’s really hard to get hold of this film (at least in the UK), but it’s worth it!

9. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Film directed by Martin Scorsese – I think the film really caught the essence of the book – creepy and unsettling.

10. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Film directed by Lynne Ramsey) – as with Shutter Island, this is every bit as harrowing as the book. Ezra Miller is outstanding.

And one book to film adaptation I’m not sure about – maybe it was too hyped up – is Blade Runner. I really loved the book, by Philip K. Dick (published as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It’s my dad’s favourite film and he kept telling me to watch it, which I finally did after reading the book, and it just wasn’t that great. It was good, but really didn’t live up to my expectations – and is very different from the source material.

How about you? What book to film adaptations have you enjoyed, or been let down by?