March 2017 Reading Summary

March, while not as busy as January, was still quite a busy month for me reading wise.

This month I discovered that Graphic Novels exist – that there are graphic novels out there that I am actually interested in reading. To anyone that has no idea what I am talking about, essentially, they are similar to comics but rather than having individual 20-30 page issues released periodically they tend to tell the full story in one book. Sometimes, as with written novels, they may be the first book in a series but length wise they tend to work out around the same as a novel.

Total books read: 22

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Screenplays: 2
Plays: 1
Novels: 5
Comic Issues: 3
Graphic Novels: 9
Manga: 2

Starting with the best books from this month

#1 – The Winner – My Favourite Read of March: Locke & Key Small World

It may only have had 32 pages and be a single issue comic but this was definitely my favourite read of March. I discovered the Locke & Key Graphic Novels back in 2016 and was honestly upset when they ended. Chancing upon this latest issue was a really happy moment for me. Taking us back into the world of mysterious keys, doors, ghosts and all kinds of other supernatural things, this was a fabulous short story which ended satisfactorily. I’m really hoping they do more of these in the future.

#2: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Pretty much the same feelings as my review. I felt like this was an excellent insight into the characters we all know and love from the Harry Potter stories, how they developed, and what happened to them in later life. What I loved was knowing that the author, J K Rowling, hadn’t forgotten about them or her fans.

#3: Noughts & Crosses Graphic Novel

I heard of this series by accident. I didn’t even know the novel versions existed but fell upon the graphic novel on my library website. I reserved a copy (that cost me 60p. 60p to reserve a book. Needless to say I won’t be reserving many more in the future). The story is hard hitting, blacks v whites, racism and love. Not in the standard sense though. Roles are reversed to what you would normally expect to see. I definitely want to read the next book but it will have to be the written version as the graphic novel is not available as yet.

And on to the worst books of March – with a twist. I have no books rated low enough for March to actually be classed as bad, so this is more of a least favourite list.

#3: Oz: The Complete Collection

Now, before you all start shouting abuse at me, don’t get me wrong, I love The Wizard of Oz and all things associated it with it. This book, however, was far toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long. 1796 pages on the kindle version to be precise. That’s a whole lot of reading.

The fact that:

  1. The book had no official page numbers on the kindle version so it just kept telling me I was at place x out of x places (at one point it was Place 400/24000 or something similar) – this frustrated the heck out of me, made the book feel like it was taking forever.
  2. The kindle kept telling me how much longer in terms of reading time I had left, starting out with an estimated 30 hours, which changed depending on whether I read a page slowly or quickly – this also made me mad as it seemed to make it take longer, being able to see actual real-time progress.
  3. I found some of the stories boring and pointless, while others were really interesting and fun. It was easy to read the fun ones but I struggled immensely with the boring ones.
  4. I was reading this to my daughter at bedtime, some nights we only managed three or four pages before she fell asleep. This majorly affected my overall experience with this book.

So, in summary, the reason this book is in the “worst” list is because the length was unbearable for me. I struggle with a 300-500 page book at the best of times. At least I can say I made it out the other side and it didn’t put me off reading.

#2: Howl’s Moving Castle, Volume 3

This was one of the Manga books that I read this month. I borrowed it from the library but didn’t realise until I got it home that it was volume three nor that it was in the proper Japanese format and had to be read from back to front. I liked the story, but having not seen the film, read the novel nor managed to read parts one and two first I felt a little lost at times. Not to mention that I kept trying to read it the wrong (right) way round.

#1 – My least favourite book of March: Trollhunters

This book, as per my review, felt like it was written for children. I did borrow it from the children’s section of my library though so I should have been expecting it. I didn’t think. That’s the only reason it is my least favourite book of this month. Otherwise it was a decent story.

April’s summary will be posted in May.

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Review: American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break… Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman’s epic novel sees him on the road to the heart of America. (Goodreads)

I chose this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a few members in my book club rave about Neil Gaiman and his work, with this being one of the ones being mentioned most often. Secondly, I had recently read two of his other works – The Neverwhere comic issues and  The Graveyard Book – I enjoyed the style of story in both of these so wanted to read more by Gaiman. Finally, American Gods is about to go live as a TV show (billed to air around 30th April in the USA) and just happens to be starring two of my favourite TV actors – Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane (see bottom of review for trailer).

Rated: 4/5 Stars

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I really enjoyed American Gods. I thought the story had an interesting concept and that the characters included were written to be believable. My favourite character was Shadow, without any doubt I went through all the emotions that he went through and felt like I was living through his eyes all the way. Shadow jumped out of the pages and became a reality. Coupled with me having seen the trailer for the TV show made it easier in this case for me to ‘see’ him.

I did feel that some of the sections in the book, mainly when they branch out of the story, were neither here nor there. The story would work with OR without them, and that’s the only reason this book didn’t get 5/5.

I am definitely going to make an effort to read the second book in the series – Anansi Boys – and also the two .5 stories of Black Dog and Monarch of The Glen.

Check out the trailer

February 2017 Reading Summary

February was a completely different month to January. In the whole month I only read 2 books. One was an audiobook and the other was a compilation book.

Audiobook

Audiobooks and me do not get one. I have tried many times in the past to listen to them but never managed past the first few pages. As my local library has an app that lets you borrow eBooks and Audiobooks, I decided to try one out. I had to make sure that it was something I was going to be interested in AND for my first time, a relatively short one.

I choose Neil Gaiman’s “The Sleeper and The Spindle” for the fact that I have recently started to discover more about Gaiman (following reading and watching Neverwhere) and the audiobook was only around 66 minutes long. I managed to listen to it without too many problems, and I enjoyed the story. What made this one interesting was that it was read with a full cast rather than just one person.

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A thrillingly re-imagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents. (Goodreads)

I did, however, determine that audiobooks are not for me. Or at least not at the moment. I prefer to read the words for myself, it felt, almost childlike to have a story read to me. Not that I think that’s the same for everyone and if you do like audiobooks I salute you for doing something I can’t.

(My review is here)

Compilation Book

The compilation book that I read was “Mary Poppins – the Complete Collection” which included six out of eight of the books that were written about Mary Poppins. The books included were: Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, Mary Poppins Opens the Door, Mary Poppins in the Park and Mary Poppins Comes Back. The two missing books weren’t straight up story books which, I believe, is the reason for their omittance from this collection. “From A to Z” is an alphabetically listed style story exploring Mary Poppins characters, words and adventures and “In The Kitchen” is a cookbook with a story.

Coming in at well over 700 pages, this was the reason I didn’t read much else during the month of February. I was reading this with my daughter at bedtime mostly so we only read a few pages at a time. During February I wasn’t in a place mentally, where I could read more than one book so this was the chosen one. I loved the book, even more than the film. In fact, the book made me dislike the film which was a bit sad as I’ve grown up watching Mary Poppins 😦 (You can read my review here)

When their new nanny, Mary Poppins, arrives on a gust of the East Wind, greets their mother, and slides up the banister, Jane and Michael’s lives are turned magically upside down.
Familiar to anyone who has seen the film or the West End adaptation, you can now read all six of these wonderfully original tales about Jane and Michael’s adventures with the magical Mary Poppins. In each book Mary takes the children on the most extraordinary outings: to a fun fair inside a pavement picture; to visit Uncle Andrew who floats up to the ceiling when he laughs; on a spectacular trip to see the Man-in-the-Moon! With her strict but fair, no-nonsense attitude, combined with amazing magical powers, things are never straightforward with Mary Poppins! But she has only promised to stay until the wind changes… (Goodreads)

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January 2017 Reading Summary

January was a busy month for me.

Total Books Read: 34
Comics: 18


Children’s Books: 11


Novels: 5

I felt like starting with the worst books this month, that way as you read on, the mood of the post will improve.

Starting us off at #3 in January’s worst books is: 49 Excuses for Not Tidying Your Bedroom (The 49… Series Book 1)

I downloaded this book for free from Amazon UK. It was listed in the graphic novels section of the kindle store, but it really wasn’t what I expected. For a graphic novel there definitely was a lot of writing – not speech bubble/scene setting writing either but big paragraphs.

#2 in January’s Worst Books is: 25 Years of Matt

Telling the story of Matt, an illustrator for a newspaper, this book was a compilation of 25 years of his work. What I wasn’t expecting was the big pieces of writing explaining each of the stories behind the illustrations. This was partly my fault for not reading the description properly as I clearly had my “FREE BOOK” blinkers on again (which is something you will see me do lots). Again, this can be downloaded from Amazon UK.

Coming in at #1 in January’s Worst Books: Super Mario: The Funniest Super Mario Jokes & Memes Volume 3

This book sounds pretty self explanatory, a book full of Mario based and/or related memes. But it wasn’t. The book is listed as having 55 pages on Amazon UK, but a lot of these were limited to one tiny meme/image in the middle and a high number of the pages were blank. Totally not what I had hoped to see (I was looking for some Mario memes to share with my gaming friends over at Gamers Unite on Facebook – I found none).

So there you have it, my recommendations of what to avoid from my January reads, now I’m moving onto the books that I think you should definitely have a look at.

Firstly, #3 in January’s Best Books: The Remarkable Rocket and Other Silly Stories

A children’s book, released by Usborne books originally as part of a 10 book series, can also be bought from Amazon UK. This book contained a couple of short stories, but I absolutely fell in love with the Rocket in the title story. An arrogant little rocket, thinks he is so much better than the other fireworks but things don’t go his way. All the stories in these books are meant to teach children some other life changing lesson, but I felt the little rocket definitely held the best message.

#2 in January’s Best Books: Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

How can Harry Potter only be number two I hear some of you asking? Well, the Potter series has been, and always will be, one of my favourite book series. This is one of my “go to” series. I have read this multiple times over the years (as I know many of you have). My love for these books will never die but The Philosopher’s Stone is not my favourite of the series. You can buy this from Amazon UK.

#1 – The Winner – My Favourite in January’s Best Books: Strange Highways

In Book Club we have a monthly read. A member of the group chooses a book or a theme and others join in by reading along. Strange Highways by Dean Koontz was chosen a while ago and I was (and still am) slightly behind with the monthly reads so, trying to catch up I finally got around to reading this. There are a few things with this book – I have been meaning to read a Koontz for a few years (due to being a Stephen King fan and being told that Koontz writes on a similar level) but not knowing where to start due to the masses of his books, this felt like a good place to start. Strange Highways appealed to me, firstly because it was a collection of shorter stories (which I felt benefited me when trying out a new author) and secondly because I love horror/thriller style books (not to mention that I adore the person who chose this book and felt bad for not reading it – but shush! That’s a secret). On reading this book, I loved it because 90% of the stories were to my liking, I particularly loved the first one a big slow build up to a satisfying and thrilling conclusion. Not to mention that Koontz wasn’t afraid to mix genres, including horror, thriller AND science fiction stories in one collection was a brave and unusual move. There was one particular story that really provided a kick to the stomach with the way it played out and funnily enough it was the shortest in the book. To pack that much of a punch in so little words really shows talent. This can be bought from Amazon UK.

That’s it for January 2017. As I’m playing catch up I will be back soon with February’s books, whether the format will stay the same depends on how I feel as I am just starting out with these monthly summaries.

Special Mention: Author Sarah Cass & Redefining Perfect

December 2013 I joined a Facebook group called Film Club. I wanted somewhere I could discuss the masses upon masses of films and TV shows that I watched. Upon joining this group I found a group of people I quickly came to call family. The majority of whom, at the time, were based in NC, USA (since then I now have “family” members from various different states and countries).

As I progressed through the ranks of FC eventually earning admin status, it was decided that we would start to branch out into “sister” and “brother” groups for FC members that also had love for interests other than film and TV. One of those, for me especially, was Book Club.

One of our members in Book Club, Sarah Cass, is a multi-published author. You can find her on Amazon UK amongst other places. Now, some people may be asking why I am writing about Sarah. Well I have a few reasons.

Firstly, she is an incredibly ACTIVE member in book club, quite often sparking interesting discussions regarding what she is or has been reading. But what makes her different to a lot of authors is that she rarely self promotes (although it wouldn’t be an issue if she did) and that she joins in with other discussions posted by us mere mortals.

Secondly, she is very helpful, always willing to offer advice to anyone (I ask a few things here and there as I am (very slowly) trying to write my own book).

Finally, I have taken an idea from her blog – Redefining Perfect – in which she posts a write up of what she been reading for the previous month, and what books she has up next in her list. I wanted to give her proper credit for the posts that I am going to start writing (or attempting to write). You can check out her latest one here.