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

Advertisements




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





In An Attempt To Cure Writer’s Block

8 07 2015

Pen and Paper

Since finishing University a few weeks ago (and while waiting for Graduation in just over a week’s time), I have been trying to do a number of things to keep myself productive and busy. I have been looking for work, trying to come up with a career plan, writing weekly blog posts, coming up with ideas for stories and board games, reading when I can, playing games, baking cakes, volunteering at Barnardo’s and at The Dukes play in the park again. One thing though that I have wanted to continue since finishing, I have found rather hard, and that is writing stories. I like writing stories, I like all kinds of writing, and when I am in the zone, I just can’t stop. Starting is an entirely different matter however.

Darkmouth (Harper Collins - 2015)

I have kept up with my blog writing, and right now am writing a series of film reviews to be shown in a few weeks’ time, but writing large pieces of work is proving to be rather difficult. Writing big projects at University (in hindsight) was easier, as I was motivated to get the work done as best as I could, but now I need to find new motivation and am finding it hard. I am constantly coming up with ideas for projects, either it be stories, blog posts or board games, but getting round to actually doing them is what I am struggling with. Writing short stories shouldn’t necessarily be too much of a problem as they are small, quick stories to write, however, starting them is as difficult as any other project. Ideas for them are hard as they need to be concise, small, and not necessarily involve big incidents, or big things happening……….which is kind of what I like. Back in May I even came up with a plan to write at least one short story a month, but in June I (technically) did not write one.

A Cake and some Cake Pops I made recently.

I say technically; basically, last month I entered Preston’s first Short Story Slam. A writing/performing contest where writers write short stories to then read out. Writer’s need to write 3 stories of no more than 200 words that can be read in 4 minutes or less. It’s a head to head sort of thing (as far as I understand it) and I need to write 3 short stories for it. A week ago I wrote one story for it, I still have another 2 to write (at time of writing) but coming up with ideas for such a small word count I am finding tough, and even when I do have an idea, simply sitting down behind my laptop to write it is proving tricky. It was only when I had a voice going through my head telling me to write the first story that I finally did it (The Slam is at the end of July, so I still have some time). Even when it isn’t that though, writing in general (when it is not for my blog) I am finding tough. I can develop ideas quite nicely, (I prefer to do it in my head where I can visualise it, while find that writing it down can usually mean I end up leaving and forgetting about it), but that’s still not writing it.

Rory's Story Cubes: Prehistoria

In an attempt to cure what I think is writer’s block; I have started doing little exercises to get me writing again. While my mind wanders onto other ideas of approaching it, for now, this one is working. I have had Rory’s Story Cubes for over a year now. First I got a small expansion in the form of Rory’s Story Cubes: Prehistoria, but discovered using them rather hard, so I bought a copy of the base set, and was able to get going with them. To begin with I just used them as a little game to play with friends and at the Writer’s Society at University. Basically, the base set is a box of 9 dice, with each side on all the dice being a different image (54 images in total). You roll them, and then use the 9 images to make a story. It has to start with “Once Upon A Time” and can either be done as one continuous story as a group, or several stories. There are other versions of the base set and several expansions, all of which can be mixed and matched to create a diverse range of stories. Recently, I decided to use them to help me write some short stories. I use them in the same way as you normally would play with them; roll them and look at the pictures rolled (sometimes re-rolling if I can’t think of anything). Instead of telling the story to someone though, I would instead write my story in a Word Document.

Story Dice 1

I have been taking the pictures of the images I have rolled, considering possibly putting my stories online at a later date (with a photo of the dice to show what images I have to work with). I actually rather enjoy coming up with stories this way; they can be about anything and there are no restrictions as to the length of the story, nor the genre it is in. It really does help me to get back into writing short stories. While I have not done one for about a week (due to being busy with my current weekly schedule), I look forward to writing another one, and hopefully with time, be able to write some without assistance, possibly even bigger ones. Right now though, I have a Short Story Slam to enter.

Story Dice 2

GENEPOOL








%d bloggers like this: