Sleeping Giants. Book Review #41

Hey everyone!

Today I want to talk to you all about Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

The book starts with a childhood discovery and is followed on years later by a revelation of cosmic proportions. This is the tale of the secrets that an ancient civilisation left behind and the secrets that are still being kept today. Sleeping Giants is a whirlwind of anonymous benefactors, underground government facilities, bilingual geniuses and very very big giants.

Sleeping Giants is told as a Dossier, through a series of interviews with characters in the plot. This format is similar to the system which Illuminae is written in and, for me, is extremely entertaining. The interview format makes the storytelling fast paced, digestible and more realistic. I was never bored reading Sleeping Giants and would whole heartedly recommend it if your looking for an easy piece of Sci-Fi that you know you’ll be able to finish in a few sittings.

But further than just my love for the format of storytelling was my love for the world building of this book. Sleeping Giants is set on modern day Earth but there are many elements to it that would be and are initially confusing to the everyday reader. For example a lot of the science in this book could very easily become so pretentious that it would get in the way of the plot; yet Neuvel always makes a point of simplifying the scientific world that the book encompasses so it is accessible and enjoyable for all.

The plot itself is intensely exciting not just because of the way that it its told but also because of the characters it is told through. In my opinion, the cast of Sleeping Giants is one of the most unique out there. The book offers humour, romance, fear and friendship all because it is able to offer characters who aren’t simple, one dimensional cardboard cut outs.

I would recommend this book entirely because I find it very difficult to find any fault with it. In fact, the only fault is that it wasn’t any longer.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Maggie Cassidy. Book Review #40

Hi everyone!

This weeks post is about a book I spoke about in last weeks! (that was a long winded way to say it)

Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac follows Jack Duluoz, a teenage athletic star who one night, in a cold New England town meets the plain and beautiful Maggie. The story looks at friendship, family, the value of education and the confusion of love.

I would like to start off by simply saying how confusing this book was. In my life as a reader I have never came across a book as difficult to read as this one – not just in terms of plot but even more so in terms of language.

Kerouac was a part of the Beat Generation of writers and poets and therefore the ‘spontaneous prose’ that the book is written was always going to be more poetic and abstract. Yet at times I would read whole paragraphs and pages and not understand at all what was going on. Books don’t have to lose meaning or plot just to ascend to ‘artistic complexity’. I think that entertainment is important for all fiction and that shouldn’t be lost to language that was too abstract in its vocabulary and form.

That being said the language was beautiful and did end up teaching me something new about reading all together. After finishing this book it became clear to me that Kerouac weaves a story not to excite via plot but instead excite via language on its own. What I mean is the book forces you to read it not to understand but to simply accept: whole pages were confusing but also I read some astoundingly powerful sentences that captured entire emotions in just a few words. It wants you to appreciate words detached from a wider meaning. It’s poetry.

From what I did understand which, to be fair, was a lot of the novel, the plot was well crafted. The pacing was perfect and it really did feel reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – one of, if not my favourite book! Make no mistake this novel screams youth.

I’ve tried to capture the ambivalence I feel towards Maggie Cassidy in this book but the best way for you to understand would be to read it.

I give this book a 3.6 out of 5 stars

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Currently reading #39

Hi everyone!

Today I want to talk about and hopefully recommend some of the stuff that I am reading right now.

I want to start off by talking about the revelation that I have had regarding reading in general recently:

It is OK to read more than one book at once!!

For a really long time I was literarily repulsed by the idea of dipping into more than one world at once. It felt unnatural, I felt like by dividing my attention I would be enjoying both book’s experiences less. However recently I decided to pick up Jane Eyre (spontaneously) whilst reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (My Harry Potter post is for a whole other time) and found that it was a really enlightening experience.

I’m at a time in my life where I’m growing up and away from YA whilst reading less in general due to the load of work that starting new courses brings. Yet oddly I’ve found that reading more than one thing at once has actually motivated to pick books up more – it is challenging but it is all the more rewarding and fulfilling as a bookworm and I would really recommend trying it out to any of you who had the same reservations as me!

Back to books:

Currently I am reading Emma by Jane Austen and Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac.

  • ‘Emma’ so far has been really interesting. Unlike Pride and Prejudice, Austen does not create a victim in her heroine but instead someone who the reader is almost annoyed with throughout. Although there are still those beautiful stuffy paragraphs that Austen is famous for I do feel that this book is slightly more dynamic then P&P because it talks about women in a more subtle way then being outrightly feminist in my opinion.
  • I have read very little of ‘Maggie Cassidy’ so far but already am getting vibes similar to those I felt when reading ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. In the simplest of expressions: it feels young.

You can be sure that book reviews will follow for both novels mentioned today!

I wish you all a happy reading week

Also I think I have finally worked out the comment section of WordPress so comment and let me know – do you guys all read more than one book at once? Have you always done? Am I the only one?

Keep on reading.

And thanks again Beth!

Jane Eyre. Book Review #38

It has been three months and about a million things have changed but I am back!

Although I find myself dropping in and out of these posts I’ve always felt that this blog has always been one of my favourite things about reading aside from the reading itself.

Today I would like to talk about a book I finished literally minutes before writing this sentence – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

This classic piece of literature, as I am sure many of you will already know, follows the life and love of Jane Eyre, an orphaned dependant who grows up first in the care of her uncharitable aunt, then the cold walls of Lowood school before becoming governess at Thornfield Hall. It is at Thornfield where Jane meets the sultry and sardonic Mr Rochester, the man who will change the course of her life forever.

I would like to start by simply saying – I enjoyed this book, although my feelings for it are far more complex.

Oddly the majority of classics that I have read were read when I was much younger than I am now and much less knowledgeable about books and literature in general. I find that, as a result of this, in my reading of Jane Eyre I have been able to appreciate some of the finer details of the narrative in much more depth.

Jane Eyre, unlike many classics, is not, thick, difficult or even confusing in the same way that the other Brontë sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights is. Despite the novel’s thirty eight chapters the plot never feels boring or slow; in fact it feels quite the opposite – Jane Eyre turned out to be one of the most fast paced books I have ever read in the sense that something was always changing in the main character’s life whether that was physical or not. This is one of the books greatest merits – it is constantly exciting. I find that only after having finished it that I am able to step back and see the ridiculousness of the story as a whole and even in spite of this, love it even more.

It would be unfair not to dedicate a few lines of this review simply to the language of the novel. Charlotte Brontë is a weaver of words through and through – there is a reason why her books are still selling even today, centuries on. At times the paragraphs can feel uneccesary and a victim to a victorian preference to ‘overwrite’ but I never felt that this damaged my opinion of the book. In the case of Jane Eyre it only made the events more believable. The fact that the narrator was speaking in such an intelligent vernacular only gave more credibility to the fact that Jane herself was an intellectual woman. The precision of lexical field felt honest and realistic. Further than this, I felt simply that the prose was special in a way that I find very rarely in books. It read like prose but sung like poetry and there was a beauty in this that could not and cannot be ignored; even if you put the mysterious visions, country mansions and cross dressing aside, at the core of Jane Eyre is a beating heart of literary skill and sparkle.

The book easily talks about hundreds of different themes and so I could easily try to talk about all of them but instead i’m going to focus on one that really jumped out at me. The representation of women in this book is clever. Of course, the Brontë sisters are known to be powerfully feminist in their craftsmanship but until reading Jane Eyre I did not realise how empowering and subtle this feminism was. Charlotte Brontë creates what the masses will enjoy as a poor victim but then fashions her with an unbreakable sense of self worth and a body that is not fairytale in its beauty but instead plainly average. Brontë does not just show women that they are powerful, she shows them that they can be powerful in their own lives. When a book’s story moves past it’s pages, that is when the world gets changed.

This book was more than a pleasure to read. I recommend it to everyone of every age and every life.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading

And thanks again Beth!

 

 

Book Haul. #37

Hi everyone!

I’m back after a busy few weeks!

Today’s blog post is about some books I have managed to pick up over the course of the past fortnight that I feel were a little different from the usual kind of stuff that I would go for.

The three books that I’m going to talk about are not apart of the YA genre or even remotely related. Even though I will always be a big fan of young adult it’s important, in order to grow as a reader, to branch out from the writing styles that you are most comfortable with!

Book 1- The Greeks by H.D.F Kitto

When I saw this book on a very pretty shelf in a fairly ugly charity shop in London I was instantly interested. Ancient Greece has always been a topic that intrigued me but due to sheer size of the area of study I always found it really difficult to access. ‘The Greeks’ is a light non fiction book that is both extensive and accessible. I’ve read a chapter on the tube so far and it is genuinely enjoyable. If any of you are interested in the Ancient Greeks, their way of life and the Gods they believed in I would definitely recommend this book.

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Book Two: La Chamade by Françoise Sagan

Admittedly this was a chance buy from a cool book shop I went to in Notting Hill (not the one from the film sadly).

The back of the book says:

‘Four people. A woman who has not known the passionate turmoil of love for ten years; and suddenly encounters the need for just such a love. A man with devotion enough to let her go. A younger man with desire enough to keep her too close. A woman who watches, tautly aware that impossible indifference must hide the hurt within her.’

Aside from this mysterious blurb I was also convinced by the fact that La Chamade is set in 60s Paris – a time I find to be massively interesting and massively romantic.

I haven’t read a word yet but it has done well on Goodreads which is always a good sign. If you are into French literature definitely give it a go!

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Book Three: The Outsider by Albert Camus

For all of you who know your classics, The Outsider is a literary essential.

This book was lent to me by a kind and very fancy friend who book-pushed it excitedly.

Also a French book, this short novel tells the story of a young bachelor living in Algeria. It is an exploration of man’s place in the universe and how it feels to be detached from society, how it feels to truly be an outsider in your own world.

I’ve only heard good things about this book and so on that basis, I would certainly recommend it to all of you.

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Thanks for reading this blog post. I hope, wherever you are, that you have a wonderful day.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

How to read for less. #36

Hey everyone!

Today I wanted to write a quick blog post giving my three best tips on how to read books and not spend so much money doing it.

The idea of having to pay £7 on average for a book is perfectly ok with me because I understand that that is a fairly low cost to get hours of enjoyment and support literary craftspeople whilst I’m at it!

However I also know that feeling you get when you really want to just buy every book in Waterstones but you know that your bank account just can’t take it.

Thats why I took it upon myself to think of 3 semi-inventive ways of making reading cheaper.

#1 Start a Book-Swap

I’m sure you’ve already seen these at hipster cafés and cute cornish book stores but if not, I am here to enlighten you on the concept.

At your local school, college or even workplace simply proceed to round up a flock of like-minded bibliophiles, ask them each to bring in a book they enjoyed and then SWAP them with each other! It’s that easy, really.

If you can keep the swap up and make it a regular monthly thing then BINGO! You’ve got yourself a free new book every month.

You’re welcome.

#2 Speak to Authors

I don’t need to introduce you to Goodreads (If I do, who even are you?). As well as reviewing and finding out about new books this platform is a great way to read free literature from up and coming authors.

The method is simple: go to one of your favourite books’ goodreads page, look for similar choices, choose one of these similar choices that has far less ratings and then contact the author and find out whether they are giving away review copies! Usually you will, of course, actually have to review the book in payment for the free copy but who doesn’t love reviewing books anyway?

I have said before that often, indie authors’ work is of a lower quality. This isn’t because they are bad writers but instead because they lack editors and all the behind the scenes people that you get when your actually being published. Take this into account but don’t let it spoil your experience! There are loads of great free indie books out there waiting to be read.

#3 Form a Book Circle

I am coining the phrase ‘Book Circle’. It is mine now!

No, this is not the same thing as a book club although it does posses some of the same traits as one.

In fact, a Book Circle is a really social way of spending way less on books whilst still getting all the satisfaction of a good published novel.

Here is how it’s going to work:

  1. Round up three of your bookwormiest pals
  2. Convene in a safe alcove of your local bookstore
  3. Choose one book that you all want to read
  4. Proceed to argue about which book this will be for at least 25 minutes.
  5. Buy the agreed book but only buy one copy: each put an equal amount of money towards the book at the checkout!
  6. Form a rota of who is going to read the book first, second, third and fourth
  7. Allow one week of reading time for each of the four readers!
  8. Convene again at an agreed date by the end of the fourth week.
  9. Discuss opinions on the book and then allow whoever is first on the rota to keep the book for good: Next month’s book goes to person number two for good and so on!
  10. Enjoy reading cheap literature forever more!!

Those were my three tips on reading for less! I hope they help and I hope they give your bank account a well needed rest.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

How to read more books. #35

Hey guys!

Todays blog post is going to be slightly different from the kind of stuff that I usually post.

I want to talk about books (obviously) and how to read more of them.

This is going to sound big headed (but I promise i’m not trying to be).

A lot of people ask me, how do you read so fast? or how did you finish that book so fast? and so I feel today, morally obliged, to share my 3 powerful tips with you so that all you bookworms out there who are constantly having internal battles regarding goodreads goals can stress no more!
Before I start with my tips I would like to mention that I wasn’t always a fast reader. In fact for a while the reason I didn’t enjoy reading was because of how slow a reader I was.

Tip Number One

-Don’t Set Goals

This might sound like a strange thing to do when everyone around you and everyone in the book community is talking about their goodreads goal but trust me, it works.

Think of it this way:

If you are stressing about achieving a book goal then every time you go to pick up a book you are going to have associated anxiety with the speed at which you are reading and the speed at which you are completing any given book.

Not only does this take away from the pleasure of the activity it also slows down your reading speed because you are putting active energy into worrying about how fast you are reading and so your thoughts are going to drift away more often therefore slowing your reading speed down. I know right?!! Who knew reading could be so ironic and sciency?

A Note to be mentioned

Just because I personally don’t find a reading goal helpful doesn’t mean they are not helpful for everyone! Goodreads is a wonderful platform and if you are still wanting to contribute to your reading goal maybe just total all of your logged books by the end of the year and make a post about them on your profile!

Tip Number Two

Have a routine 

Lots of people ask how I can read so many books in a week but those same people are only reading once every 17 months anyway! For me, one of the most important ways of quickening your reading speed is ensuring that you are reading every day and if possible at the same time every day.

This not only creates a natural pattern for your mind – meaning you will be able to slow down easier and stop thinking so much ( a key to getting engrossed in a book ), you will also be able to be practicing your reading style regularly.

Just like any skill,  your reading is a muscle that, with proper use, will get better with time. Therefore it is important to go to that literary gym EVERYDAY and work out! I know this might sound really obvious but seriously try it out!

Tip Number Three

-Please, do your research

This is by far the most important of all the tips. Too many people waste hours and hours of their lives drudging through a book at a snails pace because they simply hate the plot.

If only they had done their research about the book prior to reading it then they would have known in the first place that they were going to hate it.

I am not talking about revealing every spoiler and reading a summary of every chapter before you turn the first page. Essentially I am asking you to be reading reviews, reading blurbs, watching book tube videos about said book and quite often in my case looking at star ratings! Many people in the book community believe that it is a huge literary no no to overlook a book because of how well it has done with the critics. Well let me just say this: It wouldn’t have gotten such a low star rating if it was as good as sliced bread!

It might sound like a mean casting off of new authors and books that got misunderstood but seriously: don’t read a book if it got one star on goodreads! (Once again I sound obvious but people need to realise that they don’t have to put up with crap literature!).

The conclusion and thinking behind this tip is simple: if you enjoy a book, you are going to read it faster!

Thanks for reading this strange and slightly bossy blog post.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth!