Tag: reading

Sunday Summary – 19th November 2017

Good morning everybody!!
The Sunday Summary is a post I like to put together every week to let you guys know what I have been doing behind the scenes. It’s also surprisingly effective at keeping myself organised when it comes to books I have added to the TBR in making sure they have been added to all the right lists etc.
So without further adieu, here is how my week has gone:-

Books Read


This week really feels like it has been a productive one when it comes to the books read. I finished reading “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson finally and OH MY GOD!! It’s a series I could very easily binge read but I am going to restrain myself… otherwise, this will be yet another series I am caught up with and waiting for the next release. Patience is a virtue, so they say?
The next book I picked up this week was The Weight of Shadows by Karl Holton. I managed to struggle on to about a third of the way through the book before I put it down again. It wasn’t for me. The book is about 300 pages long so why the author thinks it needs 50 chapters, I’ll never know. It quite literally does change perspective every five minutes and rather than integrating important information, it is just periodically dumped on you.
To my mind, there are some epic crime stories in books and TV at the moment so if it isn’t done exceptionally, I don’t think it compares to everything else out there. This wasn’t cutting it for me, so I decided I wasn’t going to force myself through it.
Lastly, I read Zero Debt by Neeraj Deginal. This is a short account of how one man fought his way back from the brink of financial collapse and how he now plans for the future. I figured this would be an interesting read as I am of the age where I am just setting myself up in life. Everyone makes mistakes, but if we can learn from others, that’s better.
 

Books Discovered

Words of Radience
This is the only book I have added this week as it follows on from The Way of Kings and so far it is AMAZING!!! Ahem. I really need to calm down, haha!
 

Coming Up…

I have some fun posts lined up for you this week!! I have another Top Ten Tuesday (no prizes for guessing when that will be posted) and I am also taking part in my first Blog Tour!! Look out for that on Wednesday!
On Friday, I’m going to rant at you just how much I loved the first book of the Stormlight Archives series and why I am glad I persevered even though I didn’t finish it when I intended to!
On Sunday, well, I think you know the drill by now…
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review: Aaru – David Meredith

Imagine a world in which death becomes a thing of the past. Does that excite you, or scare you?

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

 

Aaru
Goodreads

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.


Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.


Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.


What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

 

My Thoughts…

Death is a powerful and sensitive subject, and it is one that ought to be treated with dignity and respect.
When David approached me about his book, I was excited to read something that challenged our current beliefs about death. With our ever-advancing technology, is a system like Aaru possible in the future?

Quite so, I think, but I am not sure it could ever come to fruition as a result of the moral and religious arguments. I say this as a person, having grown up as part of a society still fighting for reform of anti-abortion laws. Yes, it is still illegal to terminate a pregnancy here. That isn’t for discussion here, albeit topical discussion locally at the moment.

Naturally, we are all going to have our own opinions about these subjects and I am glad the book touched on them all. Told mostly from the perspective of Rose and Koren, the narrative explores how the lives of the two teenage girls are affected. Rose, having suffered for years with Leukaemia, is offered a second chance at life through Aaru once her body succumbs to the disease. As an early resident, she becomes a part of both highlighting and ironing out the flaws in the system whilst her sister Koren becomes an overnight celebrity, marketing it to the world.

Not only does the book bring about the discussion of the social attitudes towards such a “solution” to death, it also highlights a number of practical problems that could arise, including security and data manipulation. Who should decide who gets to “live” after death? Think of the number of people that live seemingly good lives, yet after they are gone, we begin to hear more sinister things about their past. Would these people be let into Aaru? The concept of the system is that initially, it would be a chargeable service, becoming free and widely available later on. In my opinion, are not the people that have the wealth to afford such a service usually in a position or power and influence? Nobody is truly virtuous so some complaint would be made to their admission into eternal life.

For altogether different reasons, the book does take a sinister turn, and the element of danger greatly added to the plot. I love the concept of the book, even though I don’t feel it is a feasible option in reality.

I struggled to relate to Koren a bit, I will admit here. A thirteen-year-old girl at the time of Rose’s death, she really struggled to come to terms with the loss of her sister. She is then thrown mercilessly into the limelight by advertising this new service available, experiencing a maelstrom of emotions. Perhaps being the rebellious teenager she is, she intentionally pushes people away (including the reader, a tad). I was glad to see Koren’s parents step up to the mark as well. I felt they were a little absent from the beginning, before and just after Rose’s death, which doesn’t have a ring of realism to me. Every family is different though, I suppose.

The book is well written and I love how bold a subject it covers. Be aware though, it has mature themes so is probably not for the faint-hearted! Otherwise, it is a definite recommend to read.

Down the TBR Hole #8

Today I am working further towards clearing out my Goodreads of unwanted books (so obviously, I can just fill it up again!) Here is a refresher on what this tag entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story to clear out my reading list of unwanted books. Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Once again, I am looking at the next ten books on the TBR:-
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1  Coalescent – Stephen Baxter

Coalescent
Goodreads

When his father dies suddenly, George Poole stumbles onto a family secret: He has a twin sister he never knew existed, who was raised by an enigmatic cult called the Order.
The Order is a hive – a human hive with a dominant queen–that has prospered below the streets of Rome for almost two millennia.
After Poole enters the Order’s vast underground city and meets the disturbing inhabitants, he uncovers evidence that they have embarked on a divergent evolutionary path.
These genetically superior humans are equipped with the tools necessary to render modern Homo sapiens as extinct as the Neanderthals. And now they are preparing to leave their underground realm.

I have actually started this book. It is the only book remotely anywhere near my bedside table. I haven’t picked it up in months though if I’m entirely honest. Given that my dad loaned me the series (when they were moving, so they had less stuff to bring up), I should probably get a wriggle on. They moved a year ago…
Verdict: Keep
 

2  The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning
Goodreads

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.
Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

This is certainly a keeper! I need to get on and read the earlier books of this second trilogy.
Verdict: Keep
 

3  Age of Myth – Michael J Sullivan

Age of Myth
Goodreads

Age of Myth inaugurates an original five-book series.
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.
Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

I knew when I looked at this the name was familiar. I recently opted to remove another of Mishael’s books from the TBR… being Theft of Swords. Though I opted not to read this other book, Age of Myth looks to be classic fantasy so it’s right up my street!
Verdict: Keep
 

4  The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Goodreads

With echoes of The Night Circus, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans in love with each other since they can remember whose childhood talents allow them to rewrite their future.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one’s origins. It might also take true love.
Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city’s underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.
With her musical language and extravagantly realized world, Heather O’Neill enchants us with a novel so magical there is no escaping its spell.

I’m going to be absolutely honest and admit that I’ve changed my mind on this one. Whilst I am sure its historical nature would appeal to me, I am not sure about the rest.
Verdict: Go
 

5  Gilded Cage – Vic James

Gilded Cage
Goodreads

In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.
This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.
Have a quick ten years. . . .

I think I added this as I understand there is a lot of politics involved, which I enjoy.
One thing I know I don’t like is a book is set in a parallel reality in the same time period that we are currently in. This has put me off reading this if I’m honest.
Verdict Go
 

6  Dune – Frank Herbert

Dune
Goodreads

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.
Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.
In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.
And his journey will change the universe.

I received a copy of this book from my work colleagues for my birthday so I will definitely be reading this!
Verdict: Keep
 

7  The Whitefire Crossing – Courtney Schafer

The Whitefire Crossing
Goodreads

Dev is a smuggler with the perfect cover. He’s in high demand as a guide for the caravans that carry legitimate goods from the city of Ninavel into the country of Alathia. The route through the Whitefire Mountains is treacherous, and Dev is one of the few climbers who knows how to cross them safely. With his skill and connections, it’s easy enough to slip contraband charms from Ninavel – where any magic is fair game, no matter how dark – into Alathia, where most magic is outlawed.
But smuggling a few charms is one thing; smuggling a person through the warded Alathian border is near suicidal. Having made a promise to a dying friend, Dev is forced to take on a singularly dangerous cargo: Kiran. A young apprentice on the run from one of the most powerful mages in Ninavel, Kiran is desperate enough to pay a fortune to sneak into a country where discovery means certain execution – and he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent Dev from finding out the terrible truth behind his getaway.
Yet Kiran isn’t the only one harboring a deadly secret. Caught up in a web of subterfuge and dark magic, Dev and Kiran must find a way to trust each other – or face not only their own destruction, but that of the entire city of Ninavel.

I like the idea of this but I am not sure it is something I want to read just now. Given that I am trying to clear out the list, I am going to take this off the list. Maybe I’ll re-add it at a later date?
Verdict: Go
 

8  Rhanna – Christine Marion Fraser

Rhanna
Goodreads

On a bitter winter night in 1923, Fergus McKenzie loses his beloved wife in childbirth. Overcome by grief, he shuns the doctor, convinced he could have done more to save her. He also refuses to take notice of his daughter, Shona, until years later, when she falls in love with the doctor’s son.

I added this book as a starting point as my mum loves these books. Having taken a look though, I really don’t think they are my cup of tea. Don’t hate me, Mum!!
Verdict: Go
 

9  A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic
Goodreads

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Having said I don’t really like parallel universes, I wouldn’t normally have added this book to the TBR. It is only because of the amount of hype around this author in the blogosphere that I am going to give it a try. Hopefully, with the presence of magic, this doesn’t feel like the setting is too realistic.
Verdict: Keep
 

10  The Women’s Room – Marilyn French

The Womens Room
Goodreads

The bestselling feminist novel that awakened both women and men, The Women’s Room follows the transformation of Mira Ward and her circle as the women’s movement begins to have an impact on their lives. A biting social commentary on an emotional world gone silently haywire, The Women’s Room is a modern classic that offers piercing insight into the social norms accepted so blindly and revered so completely. Marilyn French questions those accepted norms and poignantly portrays the hopeful believers looking for new truths.

I added this book having read “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong at the beginning of this year. To be upfront… yes, this is described as a feminist book. Do I classify myself as a feminist? No. That doesn’t mean I cannot educate myself on the subject though. I think feminism is massively misunderstood in terms of whether it represents the empowerment of women or fighting for equality.
Verdict: Keep
 
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Have you reviewed your TBR pile lately? I’d love to hear from you!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: November 2017

Happy Halloween, guys!!
Technically where I am from, we don’t celebrate “Halloween”, in the strictest sense. A lot of our local history is steeped in Celtic tradition, so instead, we celebrate an alternately named (but basically the same) holiday!
ANYWAY… back on subject! Tomorrow is the start of a new month so it’s that time again, ladies and gents, to share with you my reading list!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to complete my October list. It was ambitious, I’ll admit, but I was the idiot and piled too much on my plate, so now I have to play catch up.
Emma Stone sarcasm
I am both my own worst enemy and my greatest critic, which is amazing, considering there are so many people out there who are more than happy to put you down. I really need to remember that I have achieved a lot this year and I ought to be proud of myself. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. We all have our own insecurities, after all.
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1  My Life As Steve Keller – Zach Baynes

My Life as Steve Keller
Goodreads – My Life as Steve Keller

One man’s journey through twelve cities, three decades, and four lovers, all while living with the realities of climate change and technology. The stories about food and history will make you want to travel, and the charming dialogue will make you smile. The book depicts two of the most basic needs in life, that neither technology nor the passing of time can erase: the need to be loved and the need to be protected.

So this is the first of two independent review requests I received this month, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts about this book with you. This looks to be a little different from the usual thing I would pick up, however having checked out a preview on Goodreads – I think this is something new I will enjoy!
 

2  Aaru – David Meredith

Aaru
Goodreads – Aaru

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.
She is sixteen years old.
Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.
Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

This is the second book of the month that I am reading on request.
I was extremely glad to have been approached about this. Nobody deserves to suffer, but especially not children. I already know three people who I went to school with, that have suffered terminal illnesses and passed away as a result. It’s awful! In an ever-changing world and with advancing technology, is everlasting life a possibility? Is it a desirable thing? I really hope this book challenges these ideas.
 

3  The Weight of Shadows – Karl Holton

The Weight of Shadows
Goodreads – The Weight of Shadows

When you have spent your life in the shadows, what would you do at the dying of the light?
Three years ago the best murder detective in London is blamed for the death of his colleague and kicked out of the Met.
A man with secrets buried in the past and present returns to London, the city that started the mysterious career which made him a billionaire.
The two need each other.
But they have no idea how much.
A gripping crime thriller mystery with twists from the beginning to end.

I decided this month to try something a little different. Whilst I am not adverse to the genre, I don’t read much in the way of crime/thriller, although I do have plans to read more books within this genre. I don’t know much about this book, so I am almost taking a leap of faith with it. I see a lot of people testifying that it is a good way to approach a book, as there is no prejudice.
 

4  Zero Debt: Break the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life – Neeraj Deginal

Zero Debt
Goodreads – Zero Debt

“Yes, being debt-free is POSSIBLE. If I could do it, then, anyone can do it!”Neeraj Deginal
Zero Debts – Break the Debt Cycle and Re-Claim Your Life, is about the author’s ten-year long journey from going neck deep into debt to being absolutely debt-free.
 
In this book you will learn:

How the author got into debt (circumstances)
How being in debt paralysed cognitive decision making
How even simple day to day life became complicated
The thought process applied by the author to analyse his situation rationally
Systematic steps taken by the author to become and stay debt-free and the dilemmas faced during execution
Further actions taken to simplify life and plan for a better life

This book seeks to inspire the reader to become debt-free, which eventually leads them to total freedom, be it, financial freedom, emotional freedom or freedom from stress.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author via The Book Club, so thank you very much!! As a general rule, I don’t normally reach for self-help books. I read to escape reality. One of the last things I like to confront myself with is problems, (be they real or potential ones).  I am going to hold my hands up and say that whilst I am perfectly on top of my finances, I feel this book could be worth deviating from the norm. It is good to learn from other people’s experiences; let’s not forget our circumstances can change in the blink of an eye.
Last year, I had to contend with being made redundant. At this point, I had moved into and was financing my own flat. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a stressful time for me. Thankfully everything worked out, but it is best to prepare for every eventuality.
 

5  The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

The Black Prism
Goodreads – The Black Prism

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

Fingers crossed I will actually get around to reading this book this month…
I’m sure I will – I’m making sure my schedule is a little more manageable. I’m not making that mistake again.
 

6  Former.ly – Dane Cobain

Former.ly
Former.ly – Dane Cobain

When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.
But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

This is a book I have downloaded via Netgalley, and it drew my attention as it features a kind of modern technology that is potentially relevant to today’s society.
I have mixed feelings about social media. Obviously, when used correctly and safely it is a useful tool to keep in touch with friends and relatives. By very nature, bloggers use the Internet and social media in order to get books and their opinions out there. There are people that abuse this technology, sadly. I’ll outright admit that I am against the idea of social media use featured in the book. I’m curious to see if my feelings are justified or not.
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You may also have noticed that with the exception of one book, I acquired all of these for free..? Guilty!! Not only do I have to think about Christmas soon (yep, it’s that time), I also have a short trip away with some of my female friends that I have to plan for. Every little helps, right? This will not impact my posting schedule – I’ll be sure to plan ahead so you guys don’t miss out!
So that is my reading list for November!! Has anyone read any of the books featured on the list?
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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Disappointing Books

Hi!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday so far!
Today I wanted to do something a little different – it’s another meme frequenting the world of blogging and I’m excited to dive in!! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish for the purpose of sharing lists about a variety of book-related topics.
Personally, I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about books I love and enjoy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, I am not intentionally going to pick up a book I know I am not going to like.
That being said, sometimes with the best will in the world, we cannot love everything. Books that other people rave about, or books you think you will really enjoy just don’t always cut the mustard. (This is a really bizarre expression, but I love it!) These books are the feature of today’s post, so let’s get to it!
I’m writing the list in reverse order, so I’m starting with the least offensive books:-
 

10. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods
I think I’ll get some hate on this one. It is not that I didn’t like it. I did. I DID, OKAY?! I just didn’t love it… and I really thought (hoped) I would. This is a book that has been talked about a lot this year and perhaps the hype got my hopes up. It’s an okay read – and I would probably pick it up again (as has been recommended to me)… but not yet.
 

9. Eric – Terry Pratchett

Eric
Again, this is a book in which I enjoyed certain parts of, but not all. Towards the end of the book, Rincewind and Eric have to make their way through Hell back to the Discworld. I particularly loved this part as Hell was basically run like an office, with memos, policy statements and torture by boredom instead of the traditional variety of physical methods. Working in an office for 35 hours a week, I saw the humour in this, but not much else. It isn’t a bad book, but not one of Pratchett’s finest in my humble opinion.
 

8. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
It’s bad enough having one Pratchett book on here, never mind two!!
I just found this one to be really slow. At school I studied a lot of theatre so this parody of the magic of Hollywood should have been right up my street. Sad to say, I found it a bit dull.
 

7. The Inheritance Cycle series – Christopher Paolini


 
I started this series whilst studying my A-Levels, and I have fond memories of reading Eragon whilst on break duty, supervising the kids in the younger years.
I think by the time I came to read Eldest I had outgrown the series – I found it a little bit childish and ultimately, I have given up on it. If I had read it sooner I probably would have enjoyed it.
 

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
My dad would absolutely hate me if I knew this was on my list of most disappointing books. I don’t mind the film so much, but I find it really silly. It’s not supposed to be a book you take seriously, sure. I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.
 

5. The Great Iron War Series – Dean Wilson


 
I started this series this year. I also DNF’d it this year. The foundations of the series are good – I love the base plot and the motivations of the characters. What I dislike about the books is how repetitive and unrealistic they are.
“Well damn, the enemy broke my super expensive submarine. Good job I kept an arsenal of weapons and a barrage balloon on standby… you know, just in case.”
Right. Sounds legit, no?

4. The Books of Pellinor – Alison Croggon


I really enjoyed three-quarters of this series. Guess which one let me down.
The Singing, of course. The build-up to this huge battle between “The Chosen One” and the darkness begins early on and you know what? By the time the battle actually came Alison must have realised she only had about 12 pages left in her, rushed the ending very badly, and for me, the whole series just fell flat on its face. I was so disappointed, as this had so much promise.

3. Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

Magician's Guild
Now we are getting to the really bad books. This was a DNF pretty much straight away as I couldn’t get into it. There isn’t much more to it than that.
 

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The idea of a world in which you can read minds sounds both fantastic and scary right?! I thought so too, but this was also a DNF straight away. I seem to recall I thought it came across a bit childish, but I attempted this years and years and years ago and truth be told, I’ve erased the painful memory of trying to read this from my mind.
 

1. The Darkness that Comes Before – Scott Bakker

The Darkness that Comes Before
What makes this book the worst on my list is that by every right, I should have enjoyed it. I felt so strongly that I should, I ended up forcing myself to read it and that was a mistake. I’ve even attempted a re-read years later and I cannot get into it. I don’t like the main character; I find the fantasy world confusing… the list goes on. It doesn’t get any better. I can honestly say that whilst I am sure someone out there loves it… I don’t. It gets the top prize for being the worst book I ever read.
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So that makes up my list of the Top Ten Most Disappointing Books!!
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The important thing to remember is that everybody has different tastes and we are all entitled to our opinions. I’m basically saying don’t hate on me for any of my choices, pretty please?
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with me?
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Down the TBR Hole #6

Hi everybody! So it’s been a little while since I last did one of these posts, and I really do need to clear the list down. Normally I go ahead and look at the next five books on the TBR but I am going to be going through the next TEN on my list today!
In case anyone needs a brush up on just what this tag entails:-
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story to clear out my reading list of unwanted books. I have old items on Goodreads that I need to sort through. Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold

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Goodreads
Okay, so I can see why old me added this to the list. At the time I was in the crux of adding just about every single fantasy book to the reading list purely because that was almost all I was reading at the time. Now my reading taste has changed and I’m reading far more diverse genres, this just doesn’t quite grip me enough to keep it on the list.
Verdict: Go
 

Low Town – Daniel Polansky

Low Town
Goodreads
Again I think my older taste in books reflects in the choice to read this one. It sounds similar in theme to something else I read recently, however, I also noticed the ratings on this book from people that actually left a detailed review were not great. Were this something I was still intrigued by, I wouldn’t let the ratings put me off. As I’m already inclined to take this off the list, I’ll trust my gut instinct.
Verdict: Go
 

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Goodreads
This is a really easy one for me – it’s an absolute keeper. I love historical fiction (WW2 in particular) and I think it’s really going to be a fantastic read. I am actually going to be reading this book pretty soon. Whilst my reading list is never set in stone until a couple of days before the next month starts, (and at that point, I commit for the month) I am more than likely looking at reading this in December. So excited!!
Verdict: KEEP!!!!!!!
 

Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock
Goodreads
In all brutal honesty, my pre-diversity self probably saw a pretty cover, the world curse and went YUP!! MUST READ THIS!!
Having looked at this again, I am less than inspired. Not to be harsh, but I don’t think this will be my cup of tea.
Verdict: Go
 

The Ruins of Gorlan – John Flanagan

Rangers Apprentice
Goodreads
I cannot help but feel that the blurb for this book makes it sound like Magician’s Apprentice by Raymond E Feist. Does the story start with an orphan? Check. Do they end up becoming apprenticed in unusual circumstances? Check. See where I am going with this? I acknowledge the reviews for this are very good, but I don’t think I can unsee this correlation and its tarnished my view.
Verdict: Go
 

The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

The Dragons Path
Goodreads
This book is a typical fantasy in some ways, but equally unusual in others. Fantasy books involving war, and AGAIN with the orphans?! God forbid a child destined for a hard time have parents. To me, it seems a cop-out to make it easier for this kid to do whatever they have to in order to develop and allow the story to progress. That being said, the role of this orphan is not typical, so I’ll give it a chance.
Verdict: Keep
 

Radiance – Grace Draven

Radiance
Goodreads
Usually, fantasy with political elements usually excites me. But for the fact the synopsis of the book makes it sound like 90% of it is about the relationship between a Prince of nothing and a minor noblewoman, I might have kept it. Tentatively. Maybe. I don’t enjoy relationship-y, romance-y books. Huge turn-off.
Nope.
Verdict: GO!
 

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
Goodreads
The synopsis of this book makes it seem pretty tame. I’ll admit, I hadn’t read the reviews until now. Do it – read the reviews… they are fucking hilarious!
I feel like I have been brutal to the TBR today and I think this has to be the worst feature of them all. I actually think this is going to be such a car crash to read (in terms of my preference of books) that I’ll see the funny side of it. I think I need a good laugh.
If you do too – read the reviews!! Please… if you do one thing today to make yourself smile, make it this. You won’t regret it.
Verdict: Keep
 

Quantum Night – Robert J. Sawyer

Quantum Night
Goodreads
With the exception of Code Name Verity, I think this is the second best book that has come up on the TBR list. It relates to human psychology and I loved the subject when I studied it for my A-Levels. An experimental psychologist finds a way to uncover undetected psychopaths in society. Turns out he needs to look a little closer to home. He joins forces with his former girlfriend, a quantum physicist to prevent society tearing itself apart with its own violent tendencies. It’s certainly different to many of the books I have featured today and I think it will be an interesting read.
Verdict: Keep
 

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Goodreads
I added this book as I seem to remember people were raving about it. Admittedly this was before I started blogging and therefore I picked up on from my limited circles. Having reminded myself what it is about, I’m on the fence about it, to be honest. I added it because it seemed popular but I’m not sure I want to keep it. I’m sure I would find it enjoyable if I did read it, but not feeling so inclined to pick it up right now.
Verdict: Go
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It’s fair to say I’ve had a productive clear out – I’ve discarded six books and kept four, so I’m happy with that. Have you read any of the above books? Do you agree with my decisions? I would love to hear from you either way!
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Review: The War Queen – J. M. Robison

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct an Author Interview with J.M Robison in relation to her first published book, The War Queen. Today I am thrilled to be publishing my review! Before we begin, if you are yet to take a look at the interview, I would recommend you do!

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

 
The War Queen

GoodReads – The War Queen

Altarn is the first woman to hold the position of State Head in Blindvar. When Lord Kaelin, State Head of Ruidenthall, propositions her to merger with their states, Altarn believes it’s his subtle way of taking her state for his own, making himself king. On the cusp of war, she rides in disguise to her last ally, Luthsinia, to ask for help.

During her journey, Altarn is ambushed but rescued by a man called Torren who offers her protection. Quickly they realize they share a mutual attraction. Upon their arrival to Luthsinia, Altarn receives news that an army has invaded Blindvar in her absence and blames Kaelin. Except it’s not Kaelin’s army, because she discovers Kaelin is in Luthsinia for the purpose of spying on her to take her land. And Torren is not who she thought he was.
Taking advantage of the unraveling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her state without her in the way and brings her to Ruidenthall. There’s a war ship on the horizon, led by a fallen angel craving mortal worship. Kaelin realizes he needs Altarn’s help to fight this army if he’s to save his state. She’s forced to agree, but how will she react when he’s wounded in battle? If she lets him die, can she fight the enemy on her own? Or if she saves his life, will he still try claiming her state, or try claiming her heart?

Having read a sample of the first chapter I knew that Altarn’s character and her position as State Head was going to be something that interested me a lot. I don’t think I need to go into the many debates about gender equality that are out there at the moment. I’m sure you see it all the time, be it on social media or the news etc. I knew this book was going to intrigue me because I wanted to see how the fictional society of this book adapted to the change of power being in the hands of a female in comparison with what we experience in reality. I was also keen to understand how Altarn coped with the difficulties, prejudice and the challenges to her credibility experienced.

 Altarn believes Kaelin, the Lord of Ruidenthall is set upon taking her land, however her council do not believe her when she brings this matter to their attention. Having had countless letters ignored and fearing the worst for her state, she sets out to neutral Luthsinia to gain the aid necessary to fend off the impending attack. As it happens, Altarn’s concern over Kaelin’s actions are the least of her concerns and ultimately, the two sides join forces to eradicate an unforeseen threat.

I found Altarn to be a remarkably developed character – in a lot of ways, I felt I could relate to her emotionally. In the first chapter we see Altarn arrive at her State Manor, clearly enraged and she quite humourously lashes out at a training target with the name of the man who told her “You have to ride the horse before you buy it. Because if you buy it first, you may find out later it limps”. Her behaviour is entirely relatable to us mere mortals (well, at least to me anyway), however, it is not the behaviour expected of a woman in her position – and especially not in public. This scene really introduces Altarn’s character and sets her development arc for the remainder of the book.

As Altarn travels to Luthsinia undercover to request aid, she ends up travelling with a young man who protects her on the road from a band of men who have less than polite intentions. Altarn perceives herself to be more than capable of defending herself, having served in the army and intends to face the threat single-handedly. As a result of this unknown man leaping to her defence, she feels irritated that she was perceived to have needed help. Despite her obvious resentment, Altarn sees the sense of safety in numbers and continues to travel with the young man, albeit distrustfully.  I cannot help but wonder if this scenario is something JM has drawn on her army experience for. Is Altarn’s circumstance (real or perceived – I’ll allow my lack of experience to keep me sitting on the fence) of feeling or being treated as the inferior sex something experienced in the army?

With the novel written in the first person narrative from the perspective of Altarn, we get to really understand the way she is thinking and feeling. I can speak now, as a woman, when I say that a lot of her emotional struggles are perfectly relatable. As she rebounds from Jessom and begins to “admire” her mysterious co-traveller, this isn’t a spontaneous reaction just for the purpose of plot developing. What I am trying to say is… it’s a perfectly natural reaction. Altarn is forced to mature and reign in these feelings as she comes to terms with the political turmoil she has to endure for the safety of her people, although this is a great struggle for her.

I’m glad now that I have gotten to this point. If there was any element of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to like, it was the relationship between Altarn and Lord Kaelin. As a rule, books with too much emphasis on relationship struggles are a turn off for me. Regardless of my feelings on the matter, allow me to be clear that the tumultuous relationship between these two powers is a quintessential element of both the plot and the development of each of these characters. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the reasonably high dependence the plot has on the relationship, I didn’t feel alienated from the characters involved – if anything it serves a reminder of just how human they are.

I also love how the book concluded. I am not going to spoil it for you, but what I will say is this… It could have been easy for the book to end in a very typical, fairytale manner. Allow me to say I am glad it didn’t. The characters are far more sophisticated than that and I am glad that shows.

I also enjoyed the developed and consistent historical background of the fantastical realm, which is introduced when relevant throughout the book. It is a danger for the reader to be the victim of “info-dumps” when the author has to explain a lot of history and context in fantasy worlds created, but I can honestly say I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point.

In my opinion, The War Queen is an enjoyable read for all lovers of the fantasy genre. Whilst there are examples of common themes such as war (obviously), religion, (including angels and demons etc), to my mind it has been done in such a way as to set it apart from the common reiterations of the same ideas regularly seen in the genre.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my review! If you would like to learn any more about JM Robison or The War Queen, please follow any of the below links:-
Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest
Also a little reminder that there is a live Facebook event on Saturday in celebration of the book’s first birthday. If you would like to join in, here is the link – hopefully we will see you there.
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Review: The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

I have to get this disclaimer out of the way… so here goes.

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

There – I’m glad that’s over with. I think it is kind of sad that these things are even needed really.
Anyway… on a happier note – if anyone tuned in to my blog yesterday, you’ll know I posted an interview with our author Daniel to give readers the opportunity to get to know a little bit about him, the book itself and his influences in writing. If anybody is yet to check this post out… here’s a cheeky link.
Now without further adieu… the review:-
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GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
Synopsis from GoodReads:- 

“You were chosen by Yako, the bringer of Darkness.”
Join Argus Todd and his friends as he uncovers a great power exploring an old ruin, that has stood for decades in his town.
Inari, an age-old Kitsune must train Argus in his new gifts, in order to stop the chaotic Yako from bringing the darkness to our world.
But Yako appears a complex character, and all may not be as it seems…
Debut novella from author Daniel Curry, for Children and Teens. Experience the magic of the power of the Kitsune in this first book of a brand new series.
Ideal for confident young readers, and older children searching for an easy read adventure, this book is an exciting introduction to the mind of Daniel Curry

Despite the book being aimed at a younger generation, I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed it. Admittedly, (not to sound conceited), this was an easy read for me but it was a refreshing change! That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a thing or two! The magical beings introduced in the book, known as the Kitsune, stem from Japanese folklore. I love the idea that a Kitsune gains more magical abilities as it learns and ages. I’ll hold my hands up now and say prior to reading this book – I hadn’t even heard of them before! It was a great introduction to folklore from a different culture in a fun way and diversity is definitely something we should be encouraging.
This book is perfectly written for children – whether to challenge young readers to pick up books themselves or even as a story being read aloud. The plot was easy to follow, which I think is essential in a book of this length when bearing in mind the target audience. Even though I read this book all in one day, I read it in three sessions (because life has the amazing ability of disturbing reading!) – but it was so easy to pick up again when I came back to it.
The tale follows the adventures of Argus, Mae and Tom, who venture into the ruins of an old factory. There they discover a lantern and an archaic power is once again released into the world. I loved each of these three protagonists in their own way, and I really believe that everyone will be able to relate to at least one of them. Argus is the brave and outgoing “leader” of the group. He is a role model to Tom and has the respect of Mae. Tom is quite the opposite; he is the smallest of the group, the shyest and predisposed to nervousness. I was never the most outgoing of people so my inner child relates to him. Now, with my twenty-something-year-old head on… I just wanted to mother him! Mae is a great mix of both of these two characters – she even ends up mediating between these two extremes and I truly think she is a vital part in holding the friendship together.
The book is a lovely balance of myth and magic to keep the audience engaged, all the while encouraging attributes like learning and teamwork and discouraging greed. I am in no doubt Daniel knew exactly who his target audience was… but I truly believe this book is approachable to a span of age groups. The Kitsune in the Lantern is the first of a trilogy, and it is one I have every intention of finishing and I am not ashamed of the fact. I would love to learn more about the magic of the Kitsune and what further adventures Argus, Mae and Tom get to have with their new powers.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I wanted to include my favourite passage from the book, because it is absolutely true:-

“We all walk a narrow path between darkness and light. Tiny events can push our lives either way.” Inari began to pace around him. “But there is no unfairness, or path chosen for us, there is only random tastings of both sides”.
~ The Kitsune in the Lantern – Daniel Curry

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So there you have it!
I would like to thank Daniel again for the chance not only to read this book, but to be introduced to what I feel assured is going to be a lovely series! I’ll be keeping up with it too – that’s a promise!!
Just an additional note – I am jealous of the Kitsune power to step out of time. I would so do it to catch people pulling funny faces just for a laugh – I’m not always an adult! I feel sure I’m not the only one either…
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Source: Giphy

I hope you have enjoyed my review! If you would like to find out more about the book or purchase a copy, please find the links below.
Amazon      GoodReads
Also, if you would like to follow Daniel on Twitter and keep up to date with future releases, you can find him at @DCurryAuthor.
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Sunday Summary – 8th October 2017

Hi everyone!! Welcome to the Sunday Summary, in which I post every week to update you on my reading progress during the week just gone and to advise you of what you can expect on my blog next week. So… here we go!
 

Books Read

This week I managed to squeeze two of the books on my TBR into my schedule, which I am very pleased about. Both of these books are review copies which I have very kindly been provided with in exchange for an honest review.

GoodReads – The Kitsune in the Lantern
GoodReads – The War Queen
The first book I was provided with was The Kitsune in the Lantern by Daniel Curry and the second being The War Queen by J M Robison. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the Coming Up section below!

Books Discovered

Every week I manage to find books I really want to read and it gets added to the never-ending list. Not that I’m complaining – at all!! The great thing about connecting with other bloggers is that you get to see what they have been reading and potentially discover something new!
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Source: Giphy

Pretty much all of the additions to the TBR this week are as a result of reading other bloggers reviews! The two exceptions are that a good couple of months ago Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes was recommended to me at work by probably THE MOST unbookish person on my team… but that’s okay. He seemed to enjoy it, so I’m sure I will! I also discovered The Bone Season via Instagram and added that to the list.

The other books I added to the TBR this week are Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, Gerald’s Game by Stephen King, Blackwing by Ed McDonald and A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne. This last book is due out locally on the 19th October so as soon as it’s out, I’ll be getting myself a copy!


I also bought myself two books this week, including Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that changed the British Monarchy by Helen Rappaport. That title is far from catchy… just saying. It’s what it says on the tin though, I’ll give it that. This year I have been making a conscious effort to read more classics and I also know appallingly little about the British Monarchy… Oops!

Coming Up…

I am really looking forward to next week! I am just about to start reading IT by Stephen King and I have a number of review-related posts coming up on the blog. On Tuesday I am reviewing the last book on September’s TBR list, Making History by Stephen Fry.
Remember above I mentioned I was reading two review copies of books? Well, on Thursday I will be publishing an interview with Daniel Curry, the author of The Kitsune in the Lantern. My review of the book will be published on Friday. I hope you get to join the discussion!
On Sunday I’ll be posting my Sunday Summary again and tidying up the loose ends I always seem to have.
If I don’t see you around and about the blogosphere before then, I’ll see you on Tuesday!!
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Review: The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Aloha fellow book fiends!! I have for you today my review of The Maze Runner, written by James Dashner!
As I mentioned in my post on Sunday, when I regularly give you all a little preview of the week ahead, this book is one of the exceptions to the general rule I have adopted. I watched the film first! Shock horror – I hear you cry! I know a lot of other book fans prefer to read first. Do let me know if you are of a different opinion mind, I’m keen to know!!
Personally, watching the film sold the book to me – If I hadn’t watched it I may not have picked the book up. I find though, given that I am highly biased towards reading and then watching… I was worried the book wouldn’t live up to the film. I was pleasantly surprised though, I still preferred the book but equally didn’t feel disappointed by the film for not being of equal expectation. Maybe there is some merit to doing things the wrong way around after all!!
The Maze Runner
GoodReads – The Maze Runner

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.

What is it about?
We pick up the story from the perspective of Thomas, who finds himself in a new and harsh environment surrounded by other young adult boys. When Thomas enters the Glade he knows only two things for sure – his name, and that he must become a Runner…the Elite – the best of the best. Having lost all other memory, he quickly has to adapt to his new life in the Glade, however, he finds himself unwelcome by some and when things start to go wrong, suspicion and blame follow him everywhere.
Then, the most unusual thing happens. The first female enters the Glade. Things go from bad to worse, and in order to survive the Gladers have to face the Grievers and escape the maze.
My thoughts
I was actually impressed with the diversity of the characters within the book; in particular I liked how there are different levels of maturity among the youths. For example, everybody is made to work, growing crops, tending animals and a few other unsavoury jobs just to name a few. Also, there is a democracy of leaders representing all the Gladers when it comes to big decisions that have to be made.
Equally, there are the inevitable bolshy characters, aggression, and bullying that can be expected from the young men. Sorry guys – this isn’t a pointed remark at you or anything like that… it’s just that in this case, 99% of the Glade population is male. In my humble opinion, girls can be just as bad worse. WORSE. The youths have also developed some of their own language, which is very reminiscent of people (sadly a lot of them are my age) today. Having read an article including 28 slang words used on the internet today (link), I only knew three of the more obscure ones. The first, and probably the one I fucking hate the most, is “fam”. The other two are “AF” and “salty”. I think that probably tells you a hell of a lot about me.
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Now that I’m done being a savage and throwing shade (too much? – okay I’ll stop) at some of the language choices of people my age today, I’ll get back to my review…
I’m not going to lie, there were times when I really wanted Thomas to get a grip. Yeah, I get it, self-doubt and finding oneself is a big part of being a teenager. Having come out of the other side of my teenage years with a “don’t like me, well screw you” attitude, I found Thomas’ doubting and uncertainty frustrating. I would like to think in the situation I would just make the best of a bad situation and get on with it, but who knows until you end up in it.  Everyone is different. I am not saying he is unjustified in his thoughts and fears, I just don’t like it personally.
One of my pet peeves is that the book and the film get to the ending differently. As ever, books and their TV adaptations, they are just that, aren’t ever going to be identical, (unless you watch The Green Mile – that’s the closest I have ever seen). It’s also just as emosh…tional.
Dystopian novels are a big win for me… in fact it is one of my favourite themes to read. Whilst I found myself a bit frustrated with Thomas, the rest of the book made it a good read. I knew the ending from watching the film, but that didn’t particularly detract from the book. It is a trilogy after all, and there are still many unanswered questions as to why the Maze was ever created. I’ll have to read the next book to find out.
Have you read the Maze Runner? If so, what were your thoughts?
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