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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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





Wasting Away On Creeper 3

15 07 2015

CW3 Logo

For the past few weeks, I have been doing little projects here and there; from writing a series of film reviews (3 down, 4 to go), writing short stories to try and cure writers block (see previous post) as well as for entry into the Preston Short Story Slam, while also trying to develop ideas for bigger stories. All the while doing this I am trying to find work, decide on a direction of career, volunteering and awaiting the dark cloud of Graduation to arrive (tomorrow). One thing though that I have found in my way is something I do for light fun but also to help distract me when I need distracting. I play small little games on Steam every now and ten and have recently been playing such games as Mini Metro among others. One though I have come to realise, while is a useful distraction, is also wasting my time, and it’s becoming a real problem; Creeper World 3.

CW31

Creeper World 3 is the third game in the Creeper World series by KnuckleCracker.com. Over the years I have played Demos and versions of its previous incarnations on Kongregate; Creeper 3 though is the first time I have been able to play one of the actual games to the full. Basically, Creeper is a game where you have to defend/runaway/destroy a moving entity called the Creeper, which aims to destroy all the worlds of humanity. It is a real-time strategy game where you need to build defences to kill the Creeper while also either trying to destroy it completely, or survive long enough to kill it. I have found previous versions of the game really fun and very easy to get into. Creeper 3 itself plays a lot like the first one where you are on a map looking down over it, whereas Creeper World 2 was more a side scrolling view of the level.

CW21

I have been playing Creeper 3 since the Steam Summer Sale in June where I got it quite cheap, and to date, have played for over 31 hours (at time of writing). Yet I have discovered one little flaw in constant playing. Creeper 3 is not exactly a quick game, and levels (at least for me) can take close to an hour to complete. By the time I have finished, too much time has gone by for me to do anything in the way of productive, and it’s starting to become a real drag. It’s becoming such a problem I am considering uninstalling it to put on something that is much quicker to play. I actually feel rather bad as I have yet to play Grim Fandango Remastered which my brother got me for my birthday, and I really want to play it too, it’s just I get into Creeper, and then time has gone.

Grim Fandango (LucasArts - 1998)

It’s not the only game trouble I am struggling with at the moment, I am wondering about restarting Pokémon White on my 3DS as my Pokémon Team, is terrible, and I am also trying to have a second go at Beyond: Two Souls on the PS3, but I find it hard to play the game at night. And then there are my reading problems as I am finding it hard to get ‘into’ The Young Elites. It’s a hard time for me at the moment, all these struggles to do stuff and I am finding it hard to actually do them, and I don’t think playing Creeper 3 is really helping, as I would rather only play it as a 30 minute game to take during a break, not to take up an entire afternoon, as I would rather use the afternoon to do something a bit more productive, like write a book, which I really want to do.

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

I will say however, that Creeper World 3 is a really fun game and one that I do recommend (I have played it for 30+ hours).

CW32

GENEPOOL (Does that title rhyme)?





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








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