Tuesday 10 April 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Never Want to Reread

Ten Books I Never Want to Reread
So, this is my first time participating in TTT since it has moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl (and dusting off this neglected blog in the process). If you're reading this, hi there - I think your'e doing a great job! This was a really interesting one that got me thinking - there are lots of different reasons why you might not want to reread...

1) A Little Life - this book just about did me in. I would not recommend it to anyone who has a fragile state of mind in any way, or is easily triggered. I know in one sense I'm tempted to read it again, but it wouldn't be for positive reasons.

2) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - this book was really popular and I requested an ARC, thinking it to be another YA book that would be a fairly easy read. It made me very angry. That Artsy Reader Girl shares my thoughts on this book; it is completely inappropriate and basically glorifies suicide at the same time as making people think that suicide is the 'fault' of individual actions. Read her review here. (I wasn't coherent enough to write one).

3) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - this is slightly different. I loved this book so, so much that I'm scared to read it in case it isn't as good the second time round. Do you find this with books? It was just a fantastic read in every way, and I don't want the possibility of ruining it!

4) Unless by Carol Shields - Same reasons as the Poisonwood Bible. I found it incredibly moving, but I know some people who read it for a book group, and for one of them it was a reread, and they said it felt so flat on rereading! Nooo! I'll just live with my memories of the first read.

5) Game of Thrones (1) - I did enjoy this book but it was just SUCH hard work! I made extensive notes while I was writing it so that one day I can get round to reading the sequels without rereading... It's a great book, but it's not amazing enough that I want to put so much energy into it a second time round.

7) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I imagined rereading this and getting more from it second time round but, realistically, I don't think I want to. The mystery's gone.

8) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins- this was billed as 'the UK's answer to Gone Girl' which is the kind of comment I hate because it sets it up to be something else. A book is it's own book. You can suggest 'if you liked this, try that' but making it so directly linked to Gone Girl made it just fall a bit flat. I didn't enjoy it as much directly because of the comparison and that isn't fair to the author because it was probably perfectly good, just not in comparison. I don't care enough about the characters to reread.

9) Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen - this was set for my book club to read and... well, I just didn't have the right sense of humour for it. It really divided our book group: half were literally unable to speak because they were laughing so much, and the rest of us were kind of shrugging. It wasn't that I didn't get the jokes: I could see where it was meant to be funny, but it just didn't do it for me. Disappointing, silly drivel.

10) The Martian by Andy Weir - I was so disappointed by this book! I was really hyped to be reading it and it just wasn't for me. There was so much science - I like science! But this felt like reading someone's workings out for answering physics/maths questions. The premise was great. The execution just made it boring. I haven't seen the film - anyone recommend it?

What about you? What books would you not want to reread?

Friday 23 February 2018

Review: The Inheritors by William Golding

So, everyone's heard of William Golding, right? Lord of the Flies man. I wasn't aware until recently that he was actually a fairly prolific writer apart from this book, yet I'd never read a single one - this had to be remedied. So, The Inheritors came into my reading list.

Interestingly enough, it's got the similar haunting quality that Lord of the Flies has, despite, on the
surface, having such a different subject matter. Penelope Lively said it was her favourite book, because she could always get something new out of reading it - and I can well believe that!

Let's start with the premise. It's about a small group of neanderthals. When it was written, it was pretty revolutionary: writing from a point of view that is so different to our own; now, however, we are more used to books written by speakers with a different way of looking or understanding the world: for example, Emma Donoughue's Room or Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. 

Because neanderthals, as far as we know, didn't have 'thoughts' in the same way we do. Instead, they had 'pictures' which they attempted, with limited language to share with each other. The whole novel is a sort of puzzle, attempting to solve the language barrier that we have between the protagonists. I have to say, I found the book very slow at the beginning, and pretty tedious. The words themselves are very simple, but it is still hard to read quickly due to the nature of these 'pictures'; everything is a simile or a metaphor, and the simplicity and lack of language makes it a slow read. However, events progress and the pace picks up; also, I think I became used to the ponderous style, and the curious way of communicating. The ending is certainly fast-paced!

Despite being slightly irritated at the beginning, the characters are all pretty endearing (although I remember struggling to get all of their names lodged in my head!). They're charming in a sort of childlike way, which is hard as we know they won't meet a happy end (if we know anything about prehistorical times...)

There is very acute, precise description of place, a concise geographical location, and I wonder if Golding had created a map depicting the places the group move between: the waterfall, the river, the cave. This group have come to their summer grounds, an annual move. It was interesting learning about neanderthal behaviour and how much Golding actually portrayed accurately, considering he wrote this fairly quickly in his lunch hours whilst being a teacher. When one character dies, they bury him surrounded with honey - and there has been evidence of neanderthal burial within the caves that they lived, saturated with pollen, speculating that there were a lot of flowers. Despite being, in comparison to Homo Sapiens, primitive, this species mourned in a surprisingly similar way.

What was also interesting was how much we, as descendants of Homo Sapiens, have lost. They are hypersensitive to smell with a different concentration of nasal receptors, more like how we think of dogs nowadays. When Homo Sapiens arrive (only slight spoiler!), one character - Lok - doesn't understand why a man isn't using his nose to track them, he simply follows their footprints. Despite being the least intelligent of the group, Lok is graced in talents with we, as humans, don't have. There is an implied sort of 'telepathy' between the group, where they can see each others' 'pictures.' Of course this is speculation, but it does make one wonder what else we have lost in our evolutionary process.

The neanderthals had no tools, and did not kill to eat: they were happy to eat already dead carcasses, but wouldn't shed blood. They were, overall, a very peaceful race - and I believe this is supported by historical evidence. Homo Sapiens advent brings about bloodshed and violence, and their innocence is shattered.

It is in this way that The Inheritors seems similar to Lord of the Flies. Golding was very interested in original sin, and where it came from. In this book, it seems that innocence was possibly in the ignorance of not knowing danger, not knowing what the Homo Sapiens represented and what there 'sticks with feathers' flying through the air were. They assumed them to be some sort of gift; it makes for heart-breaking reading. The idea of killing simply had never entered their heads.

Like, Lord of the Flies, innocence is marred and awful events occur. Homo Sapiens seem to be the bringer of sin. Also, perhaps, the waterfall is symbolic of sin: humans came from below the fall, killed the neanderthals, and then moved beyond the waterfall into evil. The Homo Sapiens' capacity for evil was quite staggering in its contrast; the final chapter shifted perspective, whilst one man calmly thinks of killing another for no particular reason. Golding's obsession with the creation of evil may have been influenced by his time in the army: he was staggered by man's capacity for evil, and this theme rings throughout the book.

This theme - the innate cruelty of the human race - makes this book a hard read. That, and the style in which it is written. It's a slender volume, but one that time has to be taken over. And one I would definitely say is worth a reread.

Overall, it would be hard to give it a numerical rating, but I think it is definitely a book worth reading.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Cover Reveal! - Corridors of Time

~ Cover Reveal ~
Corridors of Time by Vinay Krishnan

Exciting stuff - I have a cover reveal for you here today! Check it out; I think the book sounds great! I really like Indian sagas, so this sounds like a good one. 

Corridors of Time tracks the story of a sensitive young man who grows from carefree childhood to eventful manhood - one who stumbles before learning to stride through those dark and dense passages.
Set in Bangalore - a city of paradoxes. of gardens and garbage heaps. of technology and traffic snarls. of friendly people and failing infrastructure. when bungalows had gardens and pavements were meant for pedestrians. this is a narrative of the human spirit.
Rohan, an idealistic young sports lover, experiences rejection, dark dejection and isolation and hurtles down the path to self destruction.
Shyla, attractive and successful is everything his heart yearns for and his body desires, except, she is married!
Chandrika, simple and devoted fails to understand the man she loves.
The shuklas long for justice denied by the system.
And khalid fears nothing and no one... anymore.

About the Author:

Vinay Krishnan describes himself as a ‘complete Bangalorean’. A student of Clarence High School, he graduated in Humanities from St Joseph’s College. Earning a diploma in Business Administration, he began his career at Usha International Ltd and rose to a position of Senior Sales manager. Vinay has now set up a construction firm of his own. He also writes and devotes his time to an NGO assisting people with disability. The city of his dreams, Bangalore, where he stays with his wife and daughter, continues to inspire and exasperate him. He can be reached at – vinaykrshnn@yahoo.com.

Praises for the Book:

The book is simple in style and content, for often it is this simplicity that bewilders and rouses interest.
~ Shri S . Rajendra Babu, Former Chief Justice of India

The book has excellent literary craftsmanship, passion humour and adventure. Highly recommended.
~ Mr. Namboodiri, former Asst. Editor, Deccan Herald

This charming book about old Bangalore is written in a racy easy-to-read style.
~ Deccan Herald, Bangalore.

This Cover Reveal is brought to you by Author's Channel in association with b00k r3vi3ws

Sunday 14 January 2018

Review: On The Bright Side

'On the Bright Side' is the wonderful new 'secret diary of Hendrik Groen.' I received an ARC from NetGalley, although it was published a couple of days ago and you can grab a copy from Amazon here, or (preferably) your local book shop. (For a list of more ethical places to buy books, try here.)

'On the Bright Side' is the sequel to Hendrik Groen's first diary, which I read in 2016, also courtesy of NetGalley (you can find my review here if you're interested!) For those new to Groen's story, I'll give a brief introduction: Hendrik is an octogenarian living in an old people's home in the Netherlands. In the first book, he set out to write in his diary daily to keep his mind active - and it certainly did! A group of friends set up the 'Old-But-Not-Dead-Club' who aim to have as much fun as they can, while they still can - which they certainly did! "Stop spending so much time studying life’s instruction manual. Just do it!! Yes, you may fall down a few times, but so long as you get up again, you’ll be ahead of where you were!"

The first book isn't a complete barrel of laughs though, and it ends with the demise of two members of their club: one lost to dementia, one lost to the world. As I said in my first review, this book deals with the three big Ds: Dementia, Death and Disability. There's no shying away from it.
I remember thinking that the first book felt a very fitting place to end, and was slightly surprised to see a sequel but requested it all the same. It was a joy to be reunited with Hendrik and the Old-But-Not-Dead-Club. This book has many of the same elements there are a lot of laughs, a great deal of interesting voyeuristic people-watching, and even some up-to-date social commentary. 

They continue to get up to their amusing antics as in the first book, with some added extras: trying cuisine from a new culture every month, and even spending three nights away on holiday! As you can imagine, chaos ensues at regular intervals. Many of the residents spend their time going to various acquaintances' funerals - but not Hendrik and best friend Evert. They'll be at their own soon enough, won't they?

But this book is a shade darker than the first; perhaps this is unexpected. There's a lot about the possible closure of old people's homes in the Netherlands, and what to do with the growing age of our populations. This book is written/set in 2016, and covers the major world events that went on n that year, many of them grave. Groen has decided opinions on asylum seekers that most of his more conservative neighbours do not share. But it is a reminder that not all old people are racist (covertly rather than overtly), and sometimes it is okay to challenge people, not giving them a 'get out of gaol free card' because of age. I certainly know and have known elderly people who are accepting and inclusive. Groen is one of these, making him instantly likeable. It is also a great way of switching perspective: one minute global, the next minute the saga of fruit appearing in strange places around the home that is a major source of excitement for the residents...

The other darker shades to this book are what inevitably comes with ageing. Hendrik himself continues to ponder the advantages of euthanasia, and his best friend falls further into ill health as does he himself. It's a very real book, not shying away from any subject. Written in diary format makes it very intimate and the reader can feel very much inside Hendrik's head, whether he is pondering where to go on their next club outing, what his current feeling on wearing nappies is, or whether they should invite asylum seekers into the spare rooms at the home.

Although the optimism of the first book is diluted, this is still a very easy read with a good few laughs. And if it hadn't been a touch more melancholy, it wouldn't have felt true. It can also be read as a standalone without the first, although I would recommend both.

I would urge people to read this book; having worked with elderly people, I feel they are often misunderstood, and this book is very good at correcting misconceptions. Apart from that, it is a darn good read: funny, sometimes meandering, touching, and sad.

Some words Hendrik says that I think we all, 85 years old or not, can muse on:

 'I should count my blessings even if it's only because I can still experience summer, autumn and winter by sight, sense and smell.'

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for the opportunity to read this wonderful book. Four stars.

Bout of Books 21: Day 7

So, here we are at the end of the readathon! In terms of reading, this is probably my worst Bout of Books thus far 😒 So, I finished listening to an Audiobook ('Fahrenheit 451'), read 'On the Bright Side' by Hendrik Groen, and then... well, I couldn't really commit to a book after that. I read 'Here Lies Arthur' by Philip Reeve, started a number of other books along the way without getting very far.
I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition yesterday and bought the book that went with that, which I also read - if that counts! There's not much text, just some information about the photographers and then information about the species/place they are photographing, as well as information about the award, the charities it supports, and general information about endangered species. The exhibition was fantastic!

I managed to commit to a book finally last night, and have read just under 120 pages of 'Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race' by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which is a good read so far, although I am looking forward to getting into reading some more fiction. Non fiction can be brilliant, but I'm a fiction gal at heart!

Despite having only read 2 1/2 books (plus the end of an audiobook, and a coffee-table book), it hasn't felt like a complete failure of the readathon. I know that most people tot up their page counts and lots of people were aiming for 1000 pages or so, but I'm trying to be sanguine about it. Because... I've managed to do some writing instead! So, as a reader I haven't done too well, but I've made movements forwards with writing. 

I'm not sure whether to take part in Bout of Books next time round; it'll depend on when the week falls I suppose. Reading other people's page counts is quite intimidating, so I just need to remember that I read what I can. And what I want to read: I'm finding it hard to enjoy reading so much when my TBR pile is so big. I'm a non-book-buying ban, but I have been for ages and it doesn't seem to be helping! I'm drowning in books still! (#firstworldproblems)

But, I'm a writer too. 

(Practising hand lettering!)

I don't make new year's resolutions, but this one could pretty much sum it up. It's all about balance - but who seriously has that??

Hope everyone enjoyed Bout of Books - and happy reading!


UPDATE: Review of 'On the Bright Side' is here! Good reading :)

Saturday 13 January 2018

Bout of Books 21: Day 6

So, I missed signing up to the linky for yesterday - boo. I wrote the post and then forgot to link up. Here's my post for yesterday - thanks to Liz for the great challenge, I loved the headlines!

I thought I'd get in early today and update with my reading progress later in the day. I did the challenge for today yesterday and posted it on Instagram a day early (days get very muddled in my head!) so at least I'm ahead! Here is my Book Spine Poetry:

March out of the ashes into the beautiful North, rebel girls

Really enjoyed this challenge! Will update later with reading progress, but I'm out most of today, so I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done...

Have a go at Book Spine Poetry - it's really fun! I thought it would be impossible, but I actually had more ideas than I realised when I started looking through my books. If you have a go, let me know in the comments, even if you don't take a photo.

Happy reading!

UPDATE: so, finished 'Here Lies Arthur' by Philip Reeve (author of Mortal Instruments books) which was... I'm not really sure. I didn't enjoy it quite a lot of the way through it, but looking back it
seemed quite good. Do you ever find that with a book? Have one feeling whilst reading it, and then another when looking back in hindsight? I will have to ponder it awhile...

Friday 12 January 2018

Bout of Books 21: Days 4 and 5

So, another day ran away from me and here I am at the end of day 5! I've totally failed at the readathon aspect of this - I've got to be honest. I tend to read 2-4 books a week on a normal week, and this week (a week where the aim is to read MORE!) I've only finished one book! And an audio book. Really not doing well. I'm managing to be quite sanguine about it, instead of beating myself up as usual - so that's a bonus! And the other bonus is that I've got quite a lot of writing done, so I'm not that disappointed. Feel I've sort of let the challenge down, but there we go.


Challenge, the fourth: ALL THE FAVOURITES

This is fairly open to interpretation, but I'm assuming it's famous book-related things at least! Personally, I hate making favourite lists, but here goes (using their suggestions):

Favourite audio book reader: Stephen Fry. Why? Because he's read the only audio books that I actually can't count the number of times I've listened to them. HARRY POTTER!

Favourite illustrator: Shaun Tan who did the most wonderful book 'The Red Tree' among others.
Exquisite illustration, really amazing and intricate. Other classic favourites include: Quentin Blake
(Roald Dahl), Arthur Rackham (Goblin Market, among others), and Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

Favourite series: how is this a question?? I think I may have to refuse to answer. Series I love include: Harry Potter (obviously), Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising, Across the Nightingale Floor, Swallows and Amazons, The Moomintrolls... and that's just the classic ones! An impossible question, I'm afraid.

Favourite bookish blog: I really like The Broke and Bookish and The Midnight Garden, but there are so many good blogs out there that I don't want to miss out some awesome people. Those are just two - and The Broke and Bookish is no more! Very sad times. I also miss the Midnight Garden's Middle Grade readalong, which was lovely. But there are plenty more fab bloggers out there doing their stuff!(A lot better than I do...)

Favourite vlogger: I don't watch vlogs, so not really one for me.

Favourite librarian: my darling friend who is living far too far away in Canada. But she is an awesome librarian (and writer too!)

And there was day four!

Challenge, the fifth: Newspaper Headline (create a headline for a favourite story/book)

Ooh, this could be fun!

(Tess of the D'Urbervilles)

(Moby Dick)

(His Dark Materials)

(Animal Farm)

(The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)

That was a great challenge - thanks to Liz!

Anyone think of any good book headlines? It's good fun!

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Bout of Books 21: Day 3

Challenge, the third: Take a selection of your favourite book spines to make a rainbow. 

This one, unbeknownst to me, was set by my Secret Santa Liz Whitehouse! I am an awful blogger and didn't do an unboxing post but she was beyond generous. Go and check out her blog!

So, here is my rainbow spine - and they're all brilliant books, which is the important thing. (Although the whole rainbow part is pretty darn cool too,)

(PS My review for The Power by Naomi Alderman is up on the blog!)

As for reading, I haven't done so much today - because I've been writing! I know - how did that happen? I haven't been writing for ages, and now suddenly I've been writing this week. It means I won't reach any sort of 'target' for Bout of Books this time round but - to be honest - I don't care, I'm just happy that I've got some kind of writing mojo going on! I can read anytime!

So, my review of 'On The Bright Side' hasn't quite got written yet either... Well, it's a great book - and is out tomorrow, and I'll definitely have a review up soon.

Started reading Philip Reeve's 'Here Lies Arthur' - I wanted something light and easy while I am on a (potential) writing kick.

Happy reading friends. What books are you reading right now?

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Bout of Books 21: Days 1 and 2

So, Monday flew away from me and I tried to post the first challenge (introduce yourself in six words) as a comment to Bout of Books, but it didn't work for some reason...

So, here is Monday's Challenge: introduce yourself in six words.

(Someday, I'll be on your bookshelves)

Tuesday's Challenge: Share your 2018 Reading Goal (s).

Well... I don't really have specific goals. Sorry, I know that's boring but it's the truth. Or - more accurately - they're the same as every year. To read some more classics, to write some decent reviews, to stop starting series and not finishing them, to read the books that I actually own rather than getting new ones from NetGalley... Nothing exciting, I'm afraid.

Finished one book so far this week, review to come! (Spoiler: it's great.) On the Bright Side comes out on January 11th, so I'll probably post the review before Sunday (Bout of Books day for review-writing).

Hope everyone else is having a good week so far!

Thursday 4 January 2018

Bout of Books 21

So, it's come to that time of year again (several times a year) when Bout of Books is a-happening, and I'm going to give it a go. I think this is only my second time doing it officially - for those who don't know about Bout of Books, go along here and read all about it!

Basically, there's a challenge for each day of the week and a whole load of book bloggers join in! I'm not sure I'll manage all the prompts, but I will hold myself accountable with the number of books/pages I read - that's the other part.

Here are the challenges for this time round:

Monday 8th January: Introduce Yourself #insixwords
Tuesday 9th January: Share Your 2018 Reading Goal (s)
Wednesday 10th January: Book Spine Rainbow (yay! I like this one! Although I'm not sure
whether I can do as good a one as I did last time without just using the same books... which wouldn't be the point. Hmm.)
Thursday 11th January: ALL THE FAVOURITES (not sure what this means...)
Friday 12th January: Newspaper Headlines (nor this one...)
Saturday 13th January: Book Spine Poetry (I'm not too sure about this either - oh dear...)
Sunday 14th January: Leave a Book Review (at least I can understand this!)

Anyway, I'll see how I get on - wish me luck! (if anyone's reading this...)