Thoughts

Thoughts #53: The Problem with Reading Slumps

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This post was written at the beginning of April, and doesn’t apply to me so much now – but I still wanted to share it!

As well as struggling with a blogging slump lately, I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump. I’ve decided that this comes down to my most recent reads being nothing special, and also feeling a little bit pressured to read certain books because of review requests and other commitments.

The Fantasy Book of the Month in March for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, was The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I was really excited to read this one, having never read any Mitchell before. He is an author that a lot of people seem to love or hate, and I was convinced I’d be one of the former. Sadly, I was wrong. What sounded like a fantastic premise (and was accompanied by a lovely cover) turned into a big ol’ mess that, quite frankly, had me bored for at least one third of the book.

This was then followed by attempts to read various Marvel comic books that had been sat on my shelves for a while, all borrowed from the library. Needless to say I couldn’t get into any of them but one, despite having read and loved many before. The one I did manage to finish was the second Guardians of the Galaxy book, Angela, and it just didn’t live up to the first volume. I’m just a bit bored of skimpy female superheroes. And don’t even get me started on female chest armour (or lack thereof…).

bored gif

And then, most recently, The Vagrant by Peter Newman. A book that had sat on my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf since before release, one that immediately drew me in via its cover and blurb. But oh, what a disappointment. I couldn’t concentrate on it at all, meaning I missed important plot points, and was pretty confused when I did actually tune in. I don’t think I deal well with silent protagonists…

My current read is a similar story. Sounded great, is actually boring me quite a bit. I’ve started reading another book alongside it that I’ve been waiting for since it was announced (albeit another review copy), and I’m actually now only reading the first book at work during lunch, if I get a chance.

So okay, maybe only one of these books was a ‘commitment’. But it took so long for me to read because I just wasn’t interested that I feel I could have read so many more interesting books in that time. It’s time to crack down and finally read those books that I’ve been waiting for, instead of feeling pressured into reading ones that I’m not hugely interested in!

Note: After writing this post in April, I decided to read what I WANTED, instead of what I thought I should read. This has worked really well for me so far!

Do you ever feel pressured to put off the books you really want to read just because of other reading ‘commitments’?

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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?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 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.

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Last month I read a total of fourteen books: Speak by Louisa Hall, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Fated (Fated #1) by Benedict Jacka, Winter Be My Shield (Children of the Black Sun #1) by Jo Spurrier, A Room With A View by E.M. Forster, Thor: Goddess of Thunder (Thor #1) by Jason Aaron, The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu, Hawkeye: Little Hits (Hawkeye #2) by Matt Fraction, Vicious by V.E. Schwab, Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth, The Bees by Laline Paull and All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.

The stand out books of the month were definitely Vicious and The Lives of Tao. I’d been waiting to get round to Vicious for so long, and finally bought myself a new copy. I pretty much read the entire book in one day; it was so fantastic to have a book from the point of view of villains, or if not villains then at least morally grey characters. Bossypants was also hilarious, naturally, being written by Tina Fey. The Man in the High Castle was a major letdown, definitely my least favourite PKD novel so far. I also finally started reading graphic novels again!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read eight books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge and managed to defeat January’s villain, the Penguin. I’m pretty happy with that, I want to try and defeat every villain this year. February’s villain is none other than Mystique, one of my favourite Marvel villains.
  • I have currently read fourteen books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
How was January for you?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Top Science Fiction Films & TV Shows of 2015

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

This is something I like to share every Sci-Fi Month, along with my top books – my favourite science fiction films and television shows watched this year. These do not have to have been released during 2015 – just watched this year by myself.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

I already spoke briefly about Jurassic World earlier this month when I discussed dinosaurs in science fiction, but I have to mention it again here because it DEFINITELY makes the cut. So it might not be the most amazing or smartest movie ever, but for the sheer fun, thrill and nostalgia, it does no wrong in my eyes. It took all the things that made the first film so fantastic, and built on them. And it was so exciting to finally have the park open to the public! Even if things went exactly as expected.

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Another film I have already discussed this month, Ex Machina is low-key, eerie science fiction. Although A.I. may not sound ‘low key’, the technology viewed in the film is quite basic in terms of presentation, and we don’t see much more than Nathan’s swish security system and Ava herself. A slow, creeping piece about what artificial intelligence means, this might keep you awake well past your bedtime.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers_Age_of_Ultron

Whilst Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t quite the film I’d been waiting for ever since it was announced, it was still a good, fun film – and to be honest I just can’t resist Marvel. Ultron was a little too comic to be a decent villain, but it meant we got to see more of the superhero team, as well as the new additions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I’m surprised it’s not on Netflix yet to be honest…

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, this is probably cheating a bit since this is a rewatch, but I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy so many times since its initial release, and I still love it just as much. It’s funny, heartwarming, has a great amount of action and adventure, and an absolutely fantastic soundtrack. It’s a little more light-hearted and self-deprecating than other Marvel films, and all the more better for it.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

It took me a little while to get round to Big Hero 6, and I’m so glad I finally made the time. This film was adorable in every way, and just so so cool! A group of teens go from robotics students to superheroes, along with what might be the cutest robot companion ever to exist. I want a hug from Baymax please.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova

I also previously discussed Terra Nova in my post on dinosaurs in science fiction, and I’m so gutted that it was cancelled! I don’t regret checking this one out on Netflix though, definitely give it a shot if you can.

Extant

Extant

Another cancelled series… I started watching Extant earlier this year, and rushed through the first season. It tells of an astronaut called Molly Woods, who returns from a 13 month solo mission in space… only to find out that she is pregnant. It sounds quite Alien-esque, and takes a little while to pick up, but it had me gripped by the end of the season, especially as it got a little creepier. Unfortunately after the second season, it was axed.

Have you watched any of these films or TV shows? What did you think? What are your favourites of 2015?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #23: The Avengers/Avengers Assemble

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: The Avengers/Avengers Assemble.

Avengers

Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster. (via IMDB)

The Avengers, also released as Avengers Assemble in the UK, is one of the highest grossing films of all time. But what did you expect when it brings together various beloved superheroes, with their own franchises, as well as a handful of new characters? I absolutely LOVE this film and am pretty much in awe of everything in it: the costumes, the technology, the sets, the special effects, the music and the perfect cast. Like my X-Men version of this feature, I won’t be recommending novels but different Marvel comic books, since there are so many different storylines and line-ups to explore.

The Avengers Volume 2, by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers Volume 2 by Brian Michael Bendis features some familiar faces to fans of the film: Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Captain America, but also some new like Red Hulk, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X and the Sub-mariner. Including the Avengers, the New Avengers and the Secret Avengers, it’s a force not to be messed with! The Infinity Gems, which if in the wrong hands could be used to destroy Earth, are under the protection of various superheroes – but the villainous Hood has eluded them, and is gathering the gems one by one. It’s up to the Avengers to stop him and save the world.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis is one of the few Marvel comics I own, rather than one I’ve borrowed and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. The film came out on 31st July, and hopefully by the time this post is up I will have already watched it. The Guardians are a misfit band of criminals who are trying to do some good. There’s Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill, a half human prince who has defied his father; Gamora, a deadly green-skinned assassin; Drax, a ferocious warrior; Rocket, the result of a genetic experiment, and Groot, Rocket’s bodyguard/friend/transport. If you’re looking for a truly funny series to follow, this is definitely the one. Oh, and this particular story arc is fairly new and only has three volumes so far, plus an X-Men crossover, so it should be easy to catch up. Iron Man also features in this volume!

Ms. Marvel Volume 8: War of the Marvels

Ms Marvel

I’ve read a couple of Ms. Marvel volumes now, but I think Ms. Marvel Volume 8 by Brian Reed is my favourite so far. Karla Sofen (aka Moonstone) has taken over as Ms. Marvel after Carol Danvers’ death, whilst the story also follows a young lady called Catherine who shares many similarities with the aforementioned Carol (original Ms. Marvel). It’s a story of confused identities and split personalities, and whilst it suffers from the unfortunate typical trait of ‘fanservice’ (lots of skintight clothing and panty shots) that come with female superheroes, there are some really fun action sequences.

Are you a fan of The Avengers/Avengers Assemble? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: July 2014

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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.

July 2014

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen, Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly, New X-Men: Childhood’s End by Craig Kyle, Uncanny X-Men Vol 5: She Lies With Angels by Chuck Austen, Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1) by Janet Edwards, Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1) by Kathryn Rose, Ultimate X-Men Vol 14: Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman, Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine, Wanted Dead or Alive by Chris Claremont, Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins..

I carried on reading more Marvel comics, although this will probably be the last month I’m able to for a while. Alias Hook was a great start to the month – a five star book as my first read of July! I also absolutely loved Marvel 1602, I mean you can’t really go wrong with Marvel and Neil Gaiman, right? Towards the end of the month I read Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene, which was kindly sent to me by Hodderscape. It’s a new epic fantasy series and WOW. Not only is the writing fantastic, but it also has a truly gorgeous cover. I also managed to fit in a re-read of Mockingjay, which I desperately wanted to do after seeing the new trailer for the film.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read six books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. I managed to recruit Cyclops and Nightcrawler, as well as successfully defeat Dr. Doom, securing extra points for my team. August’s villain is the hungriest creature in the world, Galactus!
  • I have currently read ninety-seven books towards my Goodreads goal. I may increase it to 125 for the whole year.

 

Currently reading:

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Off the blog:

I went to London Film and Comic Con/Young Adult Literature Convention on 12th July, but more on that later! I also spent three days in London with my mum and sister, which was lovely. We visited the Natural History Museum, Borough Market, London Zoo, saw lots of the sights such as Westminster, Big Ben, the Globe Theatre – and we saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy. IT WAS SO GOOD. SOOOO GOOD. My whole family absolutely love the film (can’t remember how many times I’ve watched it), and it worked so well as a musical. One word of advice – don’t buy drinks in the Savoy Theatre. £22 for three drinks? Nah.

I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which I’ve been wanting to watch since January or so – and IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT. Funniest Marvel film yet, so crazy and fun but still full of wonderfully built characters and emotions! Go watch it now.

They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!
They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!

How was July for you?

 

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #22: X-Men

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: X-Men.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The X-Men film series is set in an alternate universe, where some people are born with superpowers. These people are known as ‘mutants’, and are often misunderstood and frequently mistrusted by ‘normal’ humans. The films follow the students and teachers of Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters, founded by Charles Xavier aka Professor X, as well as Professor X’s former friend and now adversary, Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto.

This doesn’t cover one particular film, but the series as a whole. And no, of course I didn’t pick the First Class poster just so I could have a certain Irish-German gentleman on my blog… I’m doing something a little different this time, and recommending my favourite X-Men comics, rather than novels people might enjoy if they liked X-Men. It just feels a bit silly when there are hundreds and hundreds of different storylines and arcs involving our favourite mutants. I just want to emphasise that all Marvel comics I have read have been out of order, and I’ve never had any issues following storylines. So if that’s a worry to you when starting any of these, it shouldn’t be!

Ultimate X-Men: Volume 1 by Mark Millar Geoff Johns

Ultimate X-Men, Volume 1

The Ultimate X-Men series is a modernised re-imagining of the X-Men, and Ultimate X-Men: Volume 1 by Mark Millar collects the first year of these comics. The team consists of Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Iceman, with Storm and Colossus as new additions from the original 1960s line-up. There have been several artists and story writers working on the ‘Ultimate X-Men’ series, which ran for eight years, from 2001-2009. I can only comment on this particular volume but I’d definitely recommend it as a good place to start, especially if you want some more modern-looking art.

Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker & Mike Choi

Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand

The Uncanny X-Men storyline is the longest running arc of the X-Men series (since 1963), and Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker and Mike Choi is one of my favourites of the series so far. It features Cyclops and Emma Frost as the leaders of the Xavier Institute. They’re called to San Francisco by Archangel, who has discovered something very strange – part of the city seems to be stuck in the 1960s! I really loved all the 60s fashion and colours of this one, and it was a pretty fun storyline. There is also a small arc with Nightcrawler (*BAMF!*), Wolverine and Colossus travelling through Russia.

X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost & Diogenes Neves

X-Men: Worlds Apart

X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost and Diogenes Neves is different from the other X-Men books I’ve read, in that it follows Storm, and Storm only. It’s always fun when characters that don’t normally get their own spin-off books get them, because it allows the reader to learn much more about their personality, origin story etc. Wolverine gets plenty of his own stories and I’m getting a bit bored of him to be honest… I’m not so big on the art style in this one, but I liked the story. Storm is Queen of Wakanda and married to the Black Panther, and sets out to investigate a mysterious murder. It was great to finally meet the Black Panther, who I’d only ever heard about!

Are you a fan of X-Men? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?