Top 5 Books I Read In 2015

10 08 2016

The Ask And The Answer (Patrick Ness - 2009)

2014 was a good year for reading, at least for me, and in total I read 25 books. In 2015 I did not read as many, but it was not a bad year for reading neither. Yes there were some books that I read and just did not get, while many others I consider amongst some of the best books I have read in my reading life. I know it’s a bit late in the year to be doing Top 5 of the previous year posts, but I really have been meaning to get round to this one. Yes, much like I did last year, this is the time for the books I read last year to shine. I did read quite a few books as it happened, but quite a few I thought were not so good and really did put a downer on my reading time, the one standing out more than most being The Young Elites by Marie Lu. It was a good idea and a really well devised, interesting and enjoyable setting, but for the most part I simply did not understand it all that well, nor enjoy it all that much.

The Young Elites (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers - 2014)

Unlike last year, this year’s selection of books are not entirely dominated by two people called Michael, although one of them does return to this year’s list (see number 4). This year however one author dominates with two entries: as for a good period of time last year I read 4 Patrick Ness novels of which my favourite 2 are in this list. The main part of that reading was in the form of his Chaos Walking Trilogy. While I did enjoy all the books in that series, only one gets a part here, this is because I felt that I had read a few things better than The Ask and the Answer, and that while I really did enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go, as I had read a good part of the beginning in late 2014, I thought I would allow another book the place of Number 5 in this list. All things considered though, I had a really good reading year last year, and am enjoying another fun-filled one this year having already read some other books which right now I am certain will get featured in next year’s list too, hopefully though that one won’t be so late in the year. Anyway, hope you enjoy this retrospective look at the Top 5 Books I read in 2015.

Darkmouth (Harper Collins - 2015)

5. Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty – This one I just found staring at me in 2 branches of Waterstones. In the end I did buy it along with The Enemy (see number 3). Funny thing is, is that apparently when my Dad was in town that same day; he almost bought a copy of it too. Darkmouth as a book is quite an interesting idea, as it revolves around a town called Darkmouth, where every now and then a portal opens up releasing a legendary creature into the town to cause havoc. Keeping these ‘Legends’ in check is a young boy in training to become a legend hunter from his dad who is something of a legendary legend hunter. In the meantime the boy has got other worries; he actually wants to be a vet not a Legend Hunter, he still has homework to do, and there is this mysterious new girl in town that is strangely attracted to him. It’s a very nice well thought out book that is also very lengthy, but also very easy. It does not keep you held down with difficult mumbo-jumbo nor does it bore you with the details, there is actually something always happening from one chapter to the next and it does well to keep you involved. It’s also very fun and has its own style of humour which goes from laugh out loud moments to a quirky giggle; fun from start to finish, but also very tense at times.

Eve & Adam (Egmont - 2012)

4. Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate – Yes, Michael Grant is back, however I can’t help but feel that this book is more Applegate than Grant. A young girl has got herself into a real horrid accident, and is taken to the private hospital run by her multi-millionaire Mum, who runs a giant corporation in the same building. While she is recuperating, the girl tries out a brand new piece of software, one that will allow her to create her ultimate boyfriend, but it’s all just a game…right? Eve and Adam is a nice punchy but easy read that is also laced with ideas including romance, love to the misuse of genetics and creation. Each chapter centres around a certain character, of which there are mainly two, but every now and then another is introduced. It has a strange pace as it goes from an accident, to recovery, to the software, to an ex-boyfriend, to a new being, to a giant conspiracy to the big finale. It’s relatively a simpler read in comparison to the Gone books and is a nice thing to read when you have a spare minute; for instance I read it after getting my new bed. I really enjoyed it, it was just really interesting and was less about action, more an intelligent read to get you thinking and really see where things can lead, especially when several spanners are thrown into the mix, I also thought it was very similar in ideas to Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

The Enemy (Penguin - 2009)

3. The Enemy by Charlie Higson – Since reading the Gone books; I have found it progressively difficult to find a book that just grabbed me from the first page and one that I did not want to stop reading. Then I read The Enemy, and I was hooked from start to finish. Set in London, a group of kids survive on the edge inside a branch of Waitrose, while the world’s adults have all turned into Zombies. It’s a very simple premise, but the level of detail is excellent, because as soon as it begins, kids start dying, and they don’t stop. The level of violence is unprecedented, and the rivalry between the kid gangs of London and those whose stories are also explored tell a tale of a once great city crumbling in on itself, as Kids have to grow up, while the grownups go one a killing spree in their search for food. It’s very well detailed and goes into locations all over the Capital, but most of all, it tells a genuinely realistic story of the fight for survival, and how resourceful kids can be when given the chance to prove it, but also show what lengths they will have to go to in order to survive, even if it means killing those that they once loved.

Monsters Of Men (Patrick Ness - 2010)

2. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – The Chaos Walking trilogy began with a young boy living in a world where everyone could hear each other’s thoughts, who then stumbles upon a spot where he can’t hear anything. As the first two books developed, they told the story of a world that lied to the boy, and who has to conform to a new world order in order to survive. As Monsters of Men starts though, the young boy named Todd is standing in the middle of a town on the brink of war from not one but 3 sides, as an old native species to the planet has returned from extinction. Monsters of Men is a power house of a read, it goes into great lengths the horrors of war, what people will do to achieve victory and the importance of attaining Peace sooner rather than later. It is a pretty big book, but in comparison to the previous two instalments (which were both un-put-down-able), this one is one you just can’t stop reading, other than to do the things you need to do to stay alive so you can finish it. It comes with twists and turns and a whole load of action, while also following on from lessons learned, and from the point of views from not one but 3 people inside the conflict. There are also a lot of surprises and returns, ones that will grip you and began from the first book. Overall though the book goes into a real truth: a great horror not just set in a fictional world, but one existent in ours; and this is just a taster of that.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - 2011)

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay and Siobhan Dowd – I spotted this one in Waterstones when reading Chaos Walking but did not take much notice; until I realised that a film (due for release in October) was being made of it, so I gave it another look, and asked for the book for Christmas. I read it quite quickly, because for one it was quite a short read, and two, because I couldn’t get enough of it. From day one, I read a few chapters but then needed to go to bed, the same for day 2, and day 3 when I finished it, after which I had a good long and emotional cry. The story revolves around young boy Connor whose Mum gets Cancer. At school, Connor is treated as like he was invisible, because everybody knows and does not understand, but he is made the target of a group of bullies. While all this is going on however, Connor is visited by a tree monster who tells him stories, and in return, the Monster wants The Truth. It is a very chilling book with lots of fiendishly chilling artwork on every page; however the books key characteristic is how real it is: Connor not having much of a father because he left and the grandma who does not get on well with him. But the real battlefield is the playground, as day-to-day it’s a matter of walking through school invisible to everyone, keeping secretive from supposed friends and having to keep his head low from the bullies. In the meantime, The Monster tells some really chilling stories which in turn bring out the worst in Connor, who himself is holding in a dark secret, one that he fears more than anything else. The book is also very emotional and really strikes a chord with your emotional strings, one that is so powerful, that from simply reading this book I felt like I was there, and was experiencing the emotional turmoil that Connor goes through, especially the anger at old friends and the emotion of the key plot line. In turn this book had another effect on me, as this was the first time a book has ever made me physically cry, to which I did nearly before the book ended, to at least half an hour afterwards. It’s not just a brilliant read, but also a very powerful book, one whose experience will remain with you forever.

GENEPOOL





Have I Finally Found A New Book Series?

9 09 2015

The Enemy (Penguin - 2009)

I like reading. I really do enjoy reading books. I enjoy the opportunity to get lost inside a new world, one that I have either not experienced before, or continuing one I previously have entered. For the past few years, since 2012 I think, reading has become one of my favourite past times, particularly when I am travelling by train. The amount I can read on the train depends on the distance of travel, but for Young-adult fiction; which is my main genre of choice, even the short 15-20 minute travel time between Lancaster and Preston can result in one whole chapter being read. Recently though I have been having a bit of a problem with my reading.

The Young Elites (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers - 2014)

The issue has been something of finding a book to read in the first place. I like reading book series as when one finishes, another begins and this continues until the final book in the series. When a series finishes then I have the tough task of finding a new book/series to read, but when at the beginning or in the middle of one I can just look forward to the next book. Due to how slowly I read also, series can last a number of months, and when I am interested in a particular series, I can just read that one and nothing more. Of late though its become a real struggle to find a new series.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

It’s not like I have very little choice either. My Goodreads wish list allows me to keep tabs on books I have spotted and explore them further. This allows plenty of consideration time as what I would like to read next. But some of the book series I have read over the last couple of years are ones I am not too sure about continuing. In that time I have read several series of books from Michael Grant’s GONE series, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games books and more recently Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy and A Monster Calls. I have also started some other series I wish to continue at some point from possibly Joseph Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicles, Jasper Fforde’s Chronicles of Kazam and Shane Hegarty’s Darkmouth books (the second book is my current bed time read). But other series of books I have tried in the recent past, have not gone the way I had hoped. Two particular series of mention include The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris d’Lacey and The Young Elites by Marie Lu. While I did like some of these books and do have something in them for me to want to see where they are going, they also have little problems in them that I find put me off from reading anymore in the series either. However, in the midst of all these though I think I may have finally found a series that works for me.

The Enemy (Penguin - 2009)

Recently I have been reading The Enemy by Charlie Higson. It’s a series I have known about for about a year now, and it was only when I was looking for a new bedtime read that I picked up a copy of it. After finishing The Young Elites I began reading The Enemy. In my first sitting I read the first 10 chapters all in one go. I just couldn’t stop reading it. I didn’t struggle with the text size or formatting like I did with The Young Elites, nor did I think it was too complicated a plot. Much of it I thought read a bit like the GONE books. Due to a busy workload helping out at The Dukes play in the park again this year, plus other bits and bobs, continuing the book was a bit of a problem, but as I went down on the train for my holiday a couple of weeks ago, I was able to get back into it, and with relative ease, and I just couldn’t stop reading it then either, or even on the way back. At the time of writing this I was roughly no more than about 70 pages away from finishing it.

The Dead (Penguin - 2013)

Probably by the time this gets posted I will have already started the next one in the series; The Dead. I really do like the books. The setting of a zombie parent filled London and the children trying to survive in a new world without their parents is an interesting one. While there are moments I find a little bit silly, there are some really good characters and some really interesting stories going on. It’s not too hard of a read either; chapters are relatively quite short, and when in the reading zone can be just blitzed through. I really am enjoying it, and while this series like many others will not last and then I will need to go find new stuff to read, for now I am happy that I have found something new to read but will also keep me occupied for some time.

Stone Heart (Disney-Hyperion - 2006)

GENEPOOL





Top 5 Books I Read In 2014

20 05 2015

Icefire (Orchard Books - 2004)

During 2014, I took part in a reading challenge on Goodreads where I read 25 books in a year. Originally I had set the challenge to read 10 books in the year as I am something of a slow reader, but due to reading a selection of picture books, a comic and a couple of small ones, I was quick to surpass this target. So I kept on expanding it by another 5 books and by the end of the year, with a little bit of a struggle, I had read all 25 books.

Avengers vs. X-Men (Marvel - 2013)

The books I read last year were some of the best books I have read my whole life (so far) and for several months now I have been wanting to do a post about them. So here are my Top 5  favourite books that I read in 2014.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

5: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – I had not heard of nor read the works of Jasper Fforde until one of my lecturers at University posted an email about him coming to do a talk at the Uni. I did not think much more of it, but then my Lecturer suggested that I read The Last Dragonslayer as it would help with my assignment. I bought a copy of it, which was rather hard as it was not available on the shelves in Waterstones, though thankfully, I was able to order it through them. The first half of the first chapter just went by like a blur and I could not remember anything about it. The rest of the book though, I remember fondly. The story is about Jennifer Strange who is the acting head of Kazam, which is an employment agency for wizards. Times are tough for Magic and there is a lot more paperwork than there used to be, and things are going to get much harder for Jennifer, as she is destined to slay the last Great Dragon in the Ununited Kingdoms. The Last Dragonslayer is a book aimed at a teenage, possibly Young Adult audience, but I was able to just get engrossed in it. It is such a funny book, I just wanted to continuously burst out laughing as I got closer and closer to finishing it. I can’t stretch out enough how funny it was. It had references to the modern contemporary world, with the mentions of cars, business, employment and paperwork, but also had a deeply rooted world of magic and science. It’s also quite an easy read. I just loved this book throughout, such an enjoyable read.

FEAR (Egmont Books - 2012)

4: FEAR by Michael Grant – I worked out it took me somewhere between 8 and 10 months to read Michael Grant’s GONE series, but today, even after reading so many other books and other series, it is still my favourite series of books. In December 2013 I started reading FEAR, the penultimate book in the series, and at long last; it was the cover of FEAR that got me interested in the series in the first place. FEAR is the fifth book in the series and takes place after the events of PLAGUE, and things could not be worse for the boys and girls of The FAYZ. With the town and other areas they have lived been almost completely destroyed by both themselves, and the unnatural forces that reside in The FAYZ, they have finally begun to settle down, but there are dark forces both inside the dome, and outside. Inside, the town is about to rebel against its leaders and outside, a sinister plot is underway which could spell the end of those inside. But amidst all this, there is something much more powerful growing. The thing I found with the GONE series is how it is written to make you feel something more as you read it, not just affection or a connection to the characters, but makes you see or feel something more at work. I have referenced FEAR as the calm before the storm. The final book in the series has a lot of chaos and anarchy, but so does the first 4 books, but that grows more gradually. By the time you finish PLAGUE, you sort of feel rather paranoid as things get worse for the characters and the world. In FEAR though, there is a lot of times for peace and reflection, and while things do get chaotic, it’s more in a building form which saves the rest for the last instalment. FEAR also does one thing the other books have not done yet, which is explore the world outside the FAYZ; How the families of the children are doing, what the news coverage is reporting, but also what has happened to those who have escaped, and the armies Interest. FEAR then is not so much a rampaging assault on the characters inside like the first four books, but more of a supernatural conspiracy which sets everything up, for the final chapter. Due though also to its more natural calm pace, FEAR is such a beautiful but also calm read, that it becomes not just one of the best books in the series, but also, a lovely standalone book in its own right.

Jurassic Park (Arrow Books - 2006)

3: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – I had known for many years that Jurassic Park was originally a book, but I had not once considered reading it. It was only due to me wanting to do an adaptation of it for my University Degree that I decided to read it (the adaptation piece was the story re-told from the point of view of the Tyrannosaur). I went into it figuring that it would be a lot like the film, however it wasn’t; it was a lot better. I am a big fan of the film, but the book does things a lot differently. It begins in a way that starts with minor characters and some that are only heard from in no more than 1 chapter, but then it develops into something more recognisable. The characters though appear to be a lot different than they are in the film, but there are more developments and there is a real sense of who you want to boo and cheer for. Jurassic Park also has a great vision for its dinosaurs and even has a level of science in them. This science feature takes up a lot of the books dialogue, however, it is at no point; boring. It is actually written in a very interesting style that reads more like someone talking to you, instead of either lecturing you, or being written down in a text-book. It was really interesting, but in comparison, there is also a lot of mathematics as well as business, investing and corruption. It is not just a science book with the added treat of dinosaurs; it is also an insight into what lengths people will go to, to get what they want. Let’s not forget though, that at its core, Jurassic Park is an adventure, an adventure into a lost forgotten world as dinosaurs are brought back to life, and terrorise the lives of those, who have never encountered them alive. Yep, it sounds just like the film, but the book is more than a film, and is better for it.

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)

2: Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston – While reading Jurassic Park, I got interested into reading more works by Crichton. One I found in Waterstones was Micro. I did not know anything about it, was the first time I had seen it. I took a look and liked the sizing of the letters and line spacing. I looked into it, and decided to read that after I finished Jurassic Park; which I did, and liked it more than Jurassic Park. Micro is the last book to be written by Crichton who sadly passed away after finishing only a third of it, to which Preston was brought on board to complete. Micro follows a group of students as they are brought to Hawaii as part of an exciting opportunity to work for a new start-up company. Things take an ugly turn however and soon they find themselves in a world they know, but have never studied so close up before. They now have only a few days left to undo the damage done to themselves, but first have to survive a dangerous new world, that up till now, most people have taken for granted. Micro is a lot like Jurassic Park in the sense that it is very scientific but also a great adventure. It is filled with multiple perils and dangerous moments, and just like a great adventure, not everyone survives. In this we also have a selection of interesting characters, weird science and both a level of state of the art technology and; as far as I am aware, biotechnology that does not exist (yet) but appears so real. The stories biggest shock though comes in its first few chapters as while your mind is thinking one thing, you don’t see the other thing coming. In what I think is a book far better than Jurassic Park, Micro is such an enjoyable, yet both intriguing and interesting book.

LIGHT (Egmont Books - 2013)

1: LIGHT by Michael Grant – What is easily both; my favourite instalment in the GONE Series but also My Favourite Book. When I started reading it, with in just a few minutes of starting, I could not stop. Basically, everything comes to a head as those inside the FAYZ are in great danger as the Darkness has been reborn. As things get worse on the inside of the dome, things are advancing outside also and it appears that simply escaping the FAYZ, might not be such a great idea for some of the book’s main players. LIGHT is a non-stop, pulse pounding action thriller. It begins rather simply, but within a few chapters, there is chaos everywhere leading key players to meet their fate and untimely ends as they take on one of the most powerful entities in existence. Behind all this though there is still time for emotion, compassion and experience the lives of those who you have become attached to and fond of for six whole books. There are moments of regret and redemption for former villains as well as moments of great powers and raw destruction from others, and when the end comes, it is not really the end, as the book then delves into what happens to the lives of those who are still alive as some face uncertain futures. I really love this book, there was just great moments in it and it quickened the pace as it went along as the final battle approached. But the death of a certain character, a really good one, slowed it down enough for me to reflect. And then, as it reached its ultimate conclusion, came judgement day as some characters face a hard struggle, as some are made scapegoats and face criminal charges. But the story wraps it up beautifully and ends in a really nice way. It ends just the right way, with a finished, completed story, and one that I so far have not read anything like since.

The Song of the Quarkbeast (Hodder and Stoughton - 2012)

GENEPOOL (My Goodreads challenge for this year is to read 15 books in a year).





Messenger Of Fear Cover Art

16 07 2014

Messenger of Fear 2

A couple of weeks ago, Goodreads had a sort of online event to reveal the cover art of the new book by Michael Grant. For those of you who don’t know who Michael Grant is, he is the author of both my Favourite Book and my Favourite Book Series, those being the book Light and the Gone Series, of which Light is the final book. Over the course of about 8-9 months between June 2013 and February 2014 I read all six gone books, and loved every minute of it. Since then though I have had to look for new books to read, but during the time I read them, I began to look into other books and have since read quite a lot with particular note going to The Last Dragonslayer books by Jasper Fforde and the works of Michael Crichton with me reading Jurassic Park earlier this year and am currently reading Micro (co-authored by Richard Preston). But despite all that, I have not really read anything since Light that really gripped me as much as the Gone series did. While my number 1 want to read at the moment (once I have finished my current reading and series there of) is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, (the first in the Chaos Walking series) which was suggested to me by one of my tutors, I really do look forward to reading another Michael Grant book. While he has released other books including the BZRK series, I was pleased to hear about his newest book, Messenger of Fear, but I am not too sure about the cover art.

Messenger of Fear 1

The picture above is the supposed cover for the UK release, and the one at the top of the post, is the supposed cover art for the US release, and I would much rather have the US release cover. The UK cover looks sort of, well a bit bland, the pink/red cover just looks sort of off-putting, but more than anything, it doesn’t really stand out. The thing that grabbed me when I first saw Fear and made me want to read the Gone Series was the cover art which was black but with a chilling purple title and purple binding around the pages.

FEAR

It got my attention and got me interested. The cover for Messenger of Fear does not, really, grab my attention and it probably wouldn’t have caught my eye if I saw it on the book shelves and it is only having read Gone that I know about it and want to read it. I would much rather have the US release cover art as A) it stands out and B) would look better on my bookshelves. It overall makes me want to try and order a copy with the US release cover instead of the UK one. While it is overall annoying (at least to me) how the UK cover has turned out, in the end it is the enjoyment the reader gets out of reading the book, and given the track record the author has for Young Adult fiction, this is a book I am really excited about.

BZRK

GENEPOOL





The Annoying Little Book

19 02 2014

ZP

I love reading (something that becomes abundantly clear to my regular readers). I like to get lost in amazing worlds and connect with the characters that you meet and greet as you continue to read. I even have ideas of what I think I will read next, I have just started reading The Fire Within by Chris d’Lacey for my bed time reading, while my main reading at the moment is of course the final book in the GONE Series; LIGHT by Michael Grant. As well as both of those I am also reading Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. While all of these books are very enjoyable, there is one book that has cast a shadow over my reading.

Mogworld

This is Mogworld by “Internet Sensation YAHTZEE Croshaw”. I have been a fan of Yahtzee for almost five years now and while my consistency of watching Zero Punctuation has waned over the years, every now and again I get back into watching it, and continue to enjoy it. When I heard that he was writing a book, the moment it was released back in 2010 I picked up a copy of it and instantly began reading it.

Mogworld is a very funny book with a weird bunch of characters and settings and situations. And as the chapters go on things get even weirder, but the one thing that stays consistent is the high level of comedy, no matter what happens in the chapter, there is always room for scenes of laugh out loud comedy. But it’s not just the laughs, the book delves deeply into the world that the book is set in which (this is not really a spoiler as this has been well documented before the book was released) on this occasion is a video game and delves deeply into the culture including in-game finance, politics and how zombies are not as stupid as they look.

So you may wonder ‘what does the above title mean if the book appears to be relatively good?’, well thank you for asking. The problem is that the books in-game structure is very hard to read. The books type text size is very small and there is hardly any spacing, ok for many people this may not be a problem, but it is for me. Due to this it can take almost 5 minutes to read 2 pages. Each chapter has 13 pages and when it can take a while to read them, it does get annoying and I do get very despondent, which after almost four years does begin to get at you. Which is a bit of a shame, because there are roughly less than 100 pages to go until I will have finished reading the book.

While at the moment it is not my main read as such, I do hope to finish reading the book at some point, I am too far in to just stop because it will niggle away at me. In the meantime though, it will be nothing more than a book on my goodreads ‘currently reading’ profile with no end currently in sight, but don’t let this put you off from reading it or YAHTZEE’s second book Jam.

Jam

GENEPOOL








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