Time to Book Ahead

With each New Year comes new ideas, this year already looks promising for the publishing world and various websites and newspapers are already speculating about what they think the next big thing in the Literary world is going to be. As you know, I don’t always review the latest releases, however here are some novels (some of which I’ve already purchased and are waiting on my bookshelf) which I’m looking forward to reading this year.

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

The Disaster Artist
This is a book all about the cult film ‘The Room’ starring the strange, and weirdly captivating, Tommy Wiseau. If you haven’t seen the film then you really should, it’s unintentionally funny and there are some great moments where time seems to get lost and goes from being a day to an evening to the same day again. This book is all about Greg (who starred in the film) and the process of the filming being made. I only read a short exert online and it made me laugh, so I’m really looking forward to reading it at some point this year.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Go Set a Watchman
I know this came out last year, and I was excited by it. I mean To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the books in my Top 5, so I was excited to hear that the familiar nostalgic characters were back. But then slowly but surely there was something of an outcry with people saying that it wasn’t a great book, and that previously open minded characters had become racist, so I kept putting it off. I guess I was apprehensive of losing the respect and love I had for the Finch family, but I need to read it. Who knows I may just like it, and if I don’t at least I’ll find out what happened to them.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
I made a promise to myself that this year I would try to read more varied genres. I picked this up in a book shop yesterday for the sheer fact that on the label it said ‘If you like Star Trek or Firefly then this book is for you’ I was instantly sold. But when I read the blurb on the back there was something that appealed to that aspect of me that still wants to be an astronaut exploring space. The idea of exploring vast galaxies with a mishmash crew of different species just struck a chord with my younger self. I haven’t read a lot of Sci-fi in the past so hopefully this will be the start of a long and beautiful relationship with the sci-fi genre.

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh.

Things We Have in Common
Something about this pulled me in, perhaps it was the praise that said it was similar to Gone Girl (a book which I enjoyed until the ending ruined it) I guess what piqued my interest more was the blurb on the back, it was captivating, just as the novel is supposed to be. Dealing with themes of teenage obsession and isolation, I have a feeling this is going to make for a compelling read.

Your Heart is a Muscle The Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa.

Your heart is a muscle
I love books that really seem to observe humanity and this one seems to capture it perfectly. Set during Seattle’s 1999 WTO Protest, the book follows the course of one afternoon and how the lives of seven people are changed forever. In the mix are an estranged father and son, two protestors who don’t believe in violence and the financial minister from Sri Lanka. Needless to say this should make for a raw and conflicting read.

Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta.

innocents-and-others
I think the main thing that’s intrigued me about this book is the fact it’s about two female filmmakers. Working in the media industry can be quite eye-opening and there’s always so much to be thinking about, so I was intrigued by these two filmmakers (best friends) who have very differing views on sex, morality and movie-making. It just sounds appealing and I can’t wait to grab a copy.

Zero K by Don De Lillo.

Zero K
I haven’t read much by Don De Lillo, in fact I’ve only read one of his other books ‘Americana’ and I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a long, hot, dusty summer and not really knowing what to do with my life. The subject matter of Zero K really intrigued me; a billionaire tries to cure his ailing wife by the use of body preservation until medical research can find an answer to eternal life. I think mortality is a very deep subject matter, and we all have thoughts on life and death but when money is introduced it’s even more fascinating. I’ve often thought that wealthy people seem to think they can live forever and I feel this will make for an incredibly thought provoking read.

Other titles I’m keen to read at some point this year;

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig – What can I say I loved Star Wars so much..JJ did such a great job and it’s reignited the love of the originals in my soul.

The Tria by Matt King – Matt’s a promising writer and my review and interview with him last year was one of the most viewed posts I had, so I’m really looking forward to giving this a read.

Americosis Vol.2 by Haydn Wilks – Volume 1 was crazy and intriguing enough that I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – I’ve NEVER read them OR seen the films, but I’ve heard great things. I think it’s high time I give them a shot!

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith – I think like the majority of the world I’m working my way through ‘Making a Murderer’ on Netflix and it’s really kicked off my intrigue in true crime. I love the film, so it makes sense to give this book a read.

I’d love to hear what you lovely lot are looking forward to reading this year, so please comment below.

Happy reading, Georgina.

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2015 – My Year in Books

Now back to books. 2015 was a very varied year for me, I was reading and reviewing books for ‘Belle About Town’ but also reading a book a month with my book club. I have to say having not one, not two but three outlets to discuss the books I read is really rewarding and I know I have said it in a previous post but thank you so much to all the people who have read, commented and liked my blog. It really means a lot, and this year I want to try and make sure I’m writing a least a blog post a week. I thought it would be fun for me to share some stats with you about my reading habits in 2015, and I’d love to know yours too, so please do comment below.

The first book I read in 2015 was ‘Foxcatcher: A True Story of Murder, Madness and The Quest for Olympic Gold’ by Mark Schultz and the last book I read in 2015 was ‘Forever’ by Judy Blume.

The book that made me cry the most in 2015 was ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. I’m talking full on crying with snot and everything, I’m just glad I was at home when I finished reading it as I think my fellow commuters would have been fearful had it been on the train.

The book that made me laugh the most was ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey. I genuinely laughed out loud and even snorted like a pig at one point, unfortunately this did happen on a rather crowded train during peak time and the person who was sat next to me moved seats at the next stop…How subtle.

The most powerful book I read was ‘Asking for It’ by Louise O’Neill. I read and reviewed this for ‘Belle About Town’ it was without doubt one of the most raw and infuriating books I have read. An incredibly important YA novel that all teenagers and adults alike should read.

Favourite literary magazine had to be ‘The Happy Reader’ by Penguin Classics. A seasonal magazine that interviews a well-known celebrity about their reading habits and then dissects a chosen book. Perfect for book recommendations/inspiration.

My favourite book of the year has to be ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. It had me hooked from the opening sentence and kept me that way until the very end. Weir seemed to perfectly balance, science, tension and humour and it was the top of my list of book recommendations whenever people asked me what they should be reading. Also the film adaptation was pretty accurate and perfectly executed which is a rarity.

I only re-read TWO books this year and they were ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl and ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. This is a miracle for me as I tend to re-read books out of some form of need for comfort and nostalgia so this is like a breakthrough for me.

I have plenty of books on my ‘TBR’ pile and there’s plenty of new titles coming out this year that I am looking forward to reading, so I have a feeling 2016 is going to be just as good as last year. Please comment below with your favourite read of 2015 and anything else you want to share.

Happy reading my lovelies.

Georgina.

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Little Women – A Review.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Little Women

This was the latest book selected by my Bookish Broads Book Club, and I have to say I was pretty excited about reading it. It’s probably one of the few classic books that seemed to slip me by as a young girl and my cousin absolutely loves it. I’ve heard so much about the March sisters, especially Jo, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

But actually I wasn’t very impressed. There’s no disputing that Alcott could write but I just found a lot of it quite preachy and twee. I know that during its original publishing year this probably would have been considered the norm, but I just felt that the author was trying to teach too many virtues to its authors instead of trusting them to make their own decisions.

There’s not really a lot that happens in my opinion and what does happen is all terribly cliché and predictable. Boy moves in next door, they befriend him, he begins to fall in love with Jo, the old man turns out to be warm hearted and oh look it’s Christmas and what fun we have!

I just found it all quite droll and I really struggled to read it, I didn’t like Amy at all and found her to be very vain and materialistic which was odd considering that her ‘marmee’ and father had tried to bring her up to value people and not things. I found the first part of the book incredibly convoluted. During the second half the book, where Meg marries Brooke, I found it much more interesting. Because it actually felt like something was happening.

The characters began to change and you could define them from one another whereas in the beginning, although there were a few character traits that made them obviously different, they felt like the same person. Although Beth was always rather sickly I couldn’t help but feel that her death came out of nowhere and actually found her character quite dark and maudlin.

The only redeeming aspect of this book was the character of Jo and I actually felt that Alcott developed the relationship between Jo and the Professor quite nicely, even I found him quite charming. However it wasn’t enough to make exclaim at the end ‘What an incredible novel this is, how have I not read it sooner?!’

Star Rating out of 5: 2

‘But I have nothing to give you. My hands are empty’

lwgif

Perhaps if I had read it as a young girl I may have loved it and feel differently. But I just felt it was too twee and too preachy, and I also found it hard to stomach the way women were meant to be perfect little wives when they got married and live for their husbands, which is probably another reason why I feel I connected more to Jo and the Professor’s relationship because it felt more equal. I’m keen to know other opinions on this ‘classic’ so feel free to comment below.

Happy reading.

Georgina

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From Book to Film – The Martian – A Review

The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Martian Andy Weir

I’ve always loved space, since I was a young girl one of my favourite things would be to go outside with my dad as he held my hand and explained the constellations to me and pointed things out. As much as I love reading and writing, I’ve often been known to say that I wish I would have been better at mathematics and sciences in general because being an astrophysicist actually sounds quite appealing to me. So it’s no surprise that this book has been on my radar for quite some time now.

It kicks off with the crew of Hermes abandoning the Ares 3 mission after a catastrophic sandstorm hits Mars. With the MAV in danger of being compromised Commander Lewis makes the decision to leave behind Mark Watney, who after being hit by debris is believed to be dead by his fellow crewmates. But as daylight breaks on Mars during Sol 6 it turns out that Watney is very much alive. Of course his crew are now on a four month journey back to earth and it’s safe to say that Mark is in a terrifying situation which the book can articulate much better than I.

‘So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last thirty-one days.

If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches. I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.’

But of course this is Mark’s first log, the day after it’s pretty clear he isn’t going to let these things stand in his way. Currently the next Ares mission is due to land in the Schiaparelli Crater of Mars, but the issue is this isn’t going to be for four years. So it is down to Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer to find a way to survive. He’s such a great character, clearly intelligent with a brilliant sense of humour that instantly I was rooting for him.

Back on earth NASA have held a funeral for Mark and it seems that he has been forgotten, that is until Mindy Park who monitors the status of the satellites around Mars notices images that show movement of the Rover. Pretty soon the whole of NASA is aware that Watney is alive and instantly set out to try and find a way to not only communicate with him but find a way to keep him alive until they can send another mission. This is all easier said than done and there’s lots of inner and outer politics as well as money and time constraints. And the book pretty much follows this pattern throughout, flitting between Mark on Mars trying to find a way to survive and the folks at NASA trying to do the same.

Despite having a lot of science and technology speak the book is pretty easy reading because Andy Weir found a great way for Watney to narrate and simplify the tasks he is carrying out. What’s great about the story though is the humour, the way Mark always seems to stay positive even in the face of adversity, and trust me he faces all that Mars has to throw at him and more.

This book had me gripped so much so that I was actually annoyed upon reaching work as it meant I had to go 8+ hours without being able to read it. The chapters were so intense that I swear I held my breath during the flyover, and I was sat on the edge of my seat. I became a reading cliché and I’m not afraid to admit it. This is one book that you really SHOULD read. Amazing!

Star Rating out of 5: 5

‘But now there was nothing. I never realized how utterly silent Mars is. It’s a desert world with practically no atmosphere to convey sound. I could hear my own heartbeat.’

And the film? 

watney gif

Well yes, I did go and see the film. I had to after enjoying the book so much. I always try and read the book beforehand so I can imagine everything in my own mind and I have to say the film was pretty spot on. Yes they glossed over some of the earlier parts and didn’t fully explain the ways Mark Watney modified things and built things to help his survival and they changed the ending slightly BUT all in all it was really enjoyable. My husband hadn’t read the book and came out of the cinema gushing about how gripping and intense it was.

Also I loved the casting, Matt Damon was the perfect choice for Watney. His comedic timing of Watney’s smart mouthed comebacks to NASA and one liners were impeccable. Equally there were great performances from Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover. It was visually stunning and if you’re not a bookworm or don’t think the book is for you then I implore you to check out the film because it’s just as good.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read the book, or seen the film…Or both. Get in touch by commenting below, and until next time, happy reading.

Georgina

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