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

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Not So Super

16 12 2015

Film Reel

During the first semester of my final year at University (about 1 year ago now), I was still studying Creative Writing and Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire. In my third (or 4th overall) year however it was very different, as for the first time I was doing Creative Writing Major and Screenwriting Minor, where as in the 2 previous years I had done them both joint. I decided to go down this path because in year 2 I enjoyed Creative Writing far more than Screenwriting, and wanted to do more of that, even though I was getting some of my better marks in Screenwriting. During my first semester I took part in my last screenwriting module, wherein we had to write Monologues. Now my monologue did change here and there, but the subject remained the same throughout, that of an ageing, retired super hero who just wanted to be left alone. As the development progressed, it went from a sad story of youth in my first draft to eventually a super hero talking about how he has to do work for charity events. Well eventually one thing came to another and before I knew it, it had been selected along with two other monologues from the group to be made into a short film.

Casualty Logo

At first I was surprised, but could not understand why mine was chosen. I was certain of other people in the class being better at the course than me, and so for a few days I was just at a loss to understand, eventually though I came more round to it, and began to get a little bit more excited. It was to be directed by my monologues tutor Anita who also writes scripts for Casualty, and produced by two of her ex students. I attended a meeting about the short films late December, and we talked about what they were hoping to do with it, and suggested actors to play the parts. They suggested for my film for the character to be played by Rev actor Tom Hollander (where as I thought of Tim Piggott-Smith). Anyway, that’s how it got started.

Rev TV Series Logo

In the next few months, news was scarce as to what was going on, but eventually come around February I finally heard news of what was going on. The plan was to shoot mine first out of the three and show it off at festivals. But the big news was who the production team managed to get to star in the short film; John Henshaw. When I first read that I was completely unaware of who that was, but when my Mam found out, she nearly shouted in shock and surprise. I was still unsure until I went online and found a picture of him in Google. I best know of him for appearing in Early Doors, but his filmography is much bigger than that with appearances in The Cops (which Anita also worked on), Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, and lots of other things I can’t currently grab to mind. There was also an idea for me to have an appearance in the film with him. Well, this big news was very exciting, but then about a month later I found out more detail. It turns out that John Henshaw couldn’t do it anymore, and was replaced by Shameless actor; Mark Sheals. Another person I did not know much about. However I was aware of the actress Alice Barry (after seeing a photo of her online), but instantly recognized her as someone who was in Shameless (haven’t seen it) and Phoenix Nights. Soon after that, I was given details about the film’s Facebook page where some photos from filming had already been posted and then invited all my Facebook friends to come and like the page.

Shameless Logo

So, Filming was still going ahead, but I had no idea when, until one of the producers phoned me up, and invited me to come down one day during the Easter Holidays, to Salford where it was going to be filmed. It was the Tuesday (I think) just after I got back from that year’s Saved2Serve. Anyway I turned up, having read the start of Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness on the way down. I arrived, waited for a while to be picked up, and then was, along with someone else who was waiting around at the same station. We went to one of the first sites and waited in an office for a time, only to find out we were not going to be able to film there, so we went to another site, had some lunch and I watched some of my film being filmed. The plan was that at the original location I was to be filmed with the star, but sadly it couldn’t go ahead for some reason. Anyway, I was there, watched it being made, didn’t get to have my scene, but still it was nice, was then given a lift back to Preston before journeying on to Lancaster.

Monsters Of Men (Patrick Ness - 2010)

Time passed some more after that, and I was hoping to receive a copy of the film before I went to Roothill that year so I could show it off at the camp concert. Sadly that did not get to happen, but during the previous July, I was asked to go down to Manchester, to Gulliver’s Bar, where a showing of the film was going to be put on, along with some other films that were made by some of the film’s contributors. Before that though met Alice Barry, was sitting less than a couple of metres from John Henshaw who came down to watch, and said a brief hello to Mark Sheals again. The films were all nice to watch; my particular favourite was Going to Mecca which was just really funny. But then my film came on. It was very dark and hard to see much, but it was nice to finally watch it. However I did not feel all that much strongly for it. It didn’t look or feel like the monologue I wrote, it just felt different. Out was the retired superhero who wanted to be left alone, it just didn’t feel like my work, but my Mam pointed out that it was the case that it was adapted from my work, and I may not feel as strong to an adaptation when I was so close to my original piece. Since then though I have watched it a few more times, it has been uploaded to YouTube, I have shown people I know, and I have grown a bit more strongly towards it.

YouTube

In the end it was a fun little experience, and though while it had its hurdles with both production, and me and my work personally, I am glad I did it in the end and it is a nice little film. Nice thing to put on the CV (which it is, and I am currently unemployed), but also a nice thing to show my family and friends, and something nice on which to end my Screenwriting Course. Now here is your opportunity to have a watch, please feel free to comment, like and share…….…if you want to.

GENEPOOL





What Book To Read Next?

22 04 2015

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

When you are reading a book and begin to see the end in sight (which mainly involves counting how many pages there are left) one question instantly pops into your head that requires an answer, and soon. What book am I going to read next? It’s a big question for a big reader and unless you get a new book soon, you could find yourself in a spot where you may end up not reading at all. Now if it’s the case that you are reading a book in a series, and that you are enjoying it well enough to keep reading it, then you are pretty much sorted, until the series ends and have to go out and find either a new book or a new series to read. What book to read next is a question that has been plaguing me recently, as it’s the case that I have nearly finished a book, and need a new one to begin reading, and soon. Recently I have been getting back into reading at bed time again thanks to the recent acquisition of a new bed. Reading at bed time is actually quite enjoyable and something I have enjoyed in the past, such as when I read The Hunger Games. More recently though I have been reading Eve & Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant.

Eve & Adam (Egmont - 2012)

Eve & Adam has been a lot of fun to read and I consider it one of the best books I have read this year so far (along with A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness). But with just a few chapters left to read, I needed to start thinking about which book I was going to try next. Now while I am currently reading Patrick Ness’s Monsters of Men, that has still some time to go until I have completed that, so I don’t need to worry about what after that just yet. Luckily though, I do visit Waterstones a lot and keep an eye out for books. Also, any books I have spotted either online, personal research or seen in Waterstone’s  I catalogue onto my wish list on Goodreads and put them in some sort of order as to which I most want to read next. This I find useful more as a guide though of things to look out for, especially as I know some of the titles in the list off by heart, usually the ones quite near the top. This however presents the issue of having to actually choose which one to read. My excitement for one book at a time (such as Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson) might not much be the case later on and I really need find a real way to choose one.

Steelheart (Orion Books - 2013)

Sometimes though it can be the case that my choosing of a book may depend on the books word formatting. I can find it a real struggle sometimes to read a book that has short words and not a lot of spacing, which can lead to my eyes hurting/straining. A lot of the books I read I do find give me plenty of this, and when I buy a book I do like to have a look at it to see how the words are spaced out. Sometimes I am able to read shorter text but as a result can find it harder to really get into it. This is one of the reasons that Michael Crichton’s Micro really appealed to me when I saw it on shelves in Waterstone’s. Another thing on my mind when choosing which book to read next includes considering my collection of as yet unread books. The collection is mostly made up of books I really wanted to read but did not get round to reading them as planned. The Spook’s Secret by Joseph Delaney was a case of me buying it at the same time as The Spook’s Curse, but having had Michael Grant’s GONE on my shelf for many months, I decided to give it a go, and then did not get round to reading Secret. Other books like Battle Royale by Koushun Takami are ones that I have yet to get round to reading, although I am considering reading Battle Royale after I have read Monsters of Men.

Battle Royale (VIZ Media, LLC - 2009)

As to what to the decision of choosing what my next bed time read would be however, I have had my eyes on a few things and have chosen what to read next. Roughly this time last week I was chasing up a book by Jeremy Robinson called Project Nemesis. A book which involves Giant Monsters or Kaiju trashing a city, the sort of thing I like, especially with my high interest in Godzilla films. I had once heard about the book many months ago but did not think much about it. I decide to chase it up and after having a glance at it and the other books in the series, I really wanted to read them, so when I was in Waterstone’s yesterday I asked if they had a copy of it in. They didn’t. It turned out that the book may not have been released in the UK (either yet or at all) and while I could order one, due to it not being released in the UK, it would be pricey. So with my hopes of reading it so far dashed, I had to have a think.

Project Nemesis (Smashwords Edition - 2012)

Another book I considered reading recently is a book called The Deadly 7 by Garth Jennings, a story about a group of monsters, each one representing one of the Seven Deadly Sins make friends with a boy. From the books cover it looks rather fun, however, it is not the book I asked about in Waterstone’s.

The Deadly 7 (Macmillan Children's Books - 2015)

The book I asked about was one I voted for in the Goodreads awards; The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Yes, I have not read it, but have voted for it, the reason was due to  both its cover and premise. It came to mind just as I stepped into the shop, and as it was a passing thought, I decided to ask about it. I checked the book cover and it was the one, and so it is now on order for me. So The Young Elites is to be my next bed time reading and I am really excited to read it. It’s also the first in a series, so that might cover me for a while, even though the third one may be a year or so before it is released, however, this could lead to other things. Because I did not remember the author’s name when I asked about The Young Elites, I did not realise that she had also written another book (Prodigy) in my goodreads wish list, one that’s been there for about year now (I think). More strangely though; it’s the second book in a series: The Legend series, of which I don’t know much about.

Prodigy (Putnam Juvenile - 2013)

GENEPOOL





Books I’m Currently Reading

18 02 2015

The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness - 2008)

Since reading The Hunger Games back in 2012, I have been a constant reader. After joining Goodreads in 2013 I have been posting up what is the most recent book I have read and they appear in a little tab on the side of this blog and my stories blog. in 2014 I took part in a reading challenge on Goodreads. Initially I thought I would try and read 10 books. I thought that was a good number. In total I read 25, (with me constantly editing the challenge every time I reached a milestone). This year I thought I would go up from the original 10 but not go overblown like I did with the challenge in 2014, and try to read at least 15 books this year. So far I have read 5 this year, but the first four were quite quick reads and in essence the first three were comic books. The books are:

The thing that I am struggling with this year though is getting late nights and therefore feeling really tired to actually read. On several occasions in recent months I have found myself trying to induce a power nap before hand so I can then have plenty of awake-ness to be able to read. The usual time I would read regularly is on the train to and from Preston, but due to the tiredness, I don’t feel up to reading, so most of the times I have read recently are when I feel like reading and when I force myself to do some reading. But given the last two books I have read, I haven’t minded, because they were truly gripping.

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

Another issue I have had (but this one is more constant over the last 2 years) is there is too much I want to read. Every now and then I find myself in Waterstones looking at new books I want to buy and read. The problem this incurs is that I start reading too many things when in hindsight I can read roughly less than 5 books at any one time. So at the moment I am pushing myself into that reading state and have no more than 4 books to read at any one time. While it is the case I have started some and not finished them as well as have quite a few books on my shelf that I need to get round to reading, I am forcing myself to stay on track with 4 books, and each one of these has a particular category. They are:

  • Main Reading
  • Bed Time Reading
  • Course/Research Reading
  • Christian Reading

My main reading refers to my main book reading at the moment and that is usually and has been for a long while, Fiction, particularly, Young Adult/Teen Fiction. I rarely find myself exploring adult genres, however, I have become a fan of Michael Crichton and have read both Jurassic Park and Micro (finished by Richard Preston). Bed Time Reading, is a spot I allow myself to read something completely different but only allow myself to read it as bed time approaches. Due to my current bed situation though, I am currently not reading anything at bed time. For the most part I read comics at this time as they are an easy read, mainly X-Men but have become interested in reading Fables at some point. Course/Research reading refers to reading something for my course at University, this has allowed fiction in the past with books including The Casual Vacancy (didn’t read all of it, 25 pages at most), War Horse and Jurassic Park. Christian Reading refers to the current Christian I am reading at the moment. My Christian book library is quite small at the moment, but each book I have read during this time has personally helped me every now and then. So with my current reading situation coming down to just 3 books. I thought I would let you know what I am reading at the moment.

Facing A Task Unfinished (Roger Carswell - 2011)

Title: Facing a Task Unfinished: A Personal Devotional for Evangelism

Author: Roger Carswell

Category: Christian Reading

I have owned this book since 2012 when I picked it up at Saved2Serve. It wasn’t until I left Saved2Serve 2014 and returned home that I began reading it. My reading of it is a bit on and off as it is a study course of one mini chapter per week. I find myself reading it when I can and read 2 or 3 chapters at a time. It is quite useful as it has a bible verse in each section, followed by a thought for meditation, then there is a little poem followed by a prayer you can read. the book also comes with space to allow you to write down your own personal prayers. It’s quite a nice little handy book to have as it doesn’t require much time to use and so even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, you have plenty of time just to read a little bit at a time.

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

Title: Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

Author: Blake Snyder

Course: Course/Research Reading

I have been reading this book for almost 2 years now, not as long as it took me to read MogWorld, but still a long time. It’s the case that while I try to read it regularly, doing just that is quite hard. I find it weird though that I don’t regularly read it; because it’s so good. It’s very explanative and also very funny to read but also puts your mind in situations of understanding and then goes through with you certain important points of how to write a film script. These points include, pitching, structuring and plotting out everything before you even write the first ‘FADE’ on your script. A really terrific read that is both informative to those who want to learn how to write a script as well as interesting to those who are just interested in the subject.

The Ask And The Answer (Patrick Ness - 2009)

Title: The Ask And The Answer

Author: Patrick Ness

Category: Main Reading

What is now the third Patrick Ness book I have read in a row, The Ask And The Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, the first being The Knife Of Never Letting Go. I have actually yet to start reading it due to the sleep problems but hope to start reading it this week. I am really looking forward to it and to see where the story goes as the last book finished on a huge cliff hanger and now have to wait and see what happens next.

Bookshelf

So that is what I am reading at the moment. While I currently am not reading anything at bed time, the floor is open to pretty much anything, as long as it’s a quick reading. as for the other collections, while I do not know what the next Christian Book will be or the next Course/Research book, I look forward to reading them, providing I enjoy them. While The Ask And The Answer will likely take me time to read it,  as long as I continue to enjoy the series I will probably proceed to read the final book in the series; Monsters Of Men, then I’ll have to start looking again as to what I should read next.

Monsters Of Men (Patrick Ness - 2010)

GENEPOOL








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