Monthly Archives: January 2013

Books – a lot of books

I got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas.
It’s brilliant. Honestly. I love books. and I think there’s nothing like the look or the feel or the smell of a good quality, beautiful book.
But for distraction and ease of reading, a Kindle or other eReader is hard to beat.

Since I moved here, three weeks ago, I have an hour-long commute to college. I don’t go in every day, but I do head in probably three or four times a week. So on the train journey, when I’m underground and the phone signal dies, a Kindle is incredible. Not only can I read the million and one PDFs I’m supposed to be reading for college (which I do… sometimes), I can lose myself in any one of the multiple books stored on this little tablet, and wander into another world for a few days.
I’ve read more in the last month than for a long time previously, even though I was basically unemployed for the last four months or so and had plenty of time to kill.

In any case, what I thought I’d do today, because I’ve read so much recently, would be to run through the books I’ve read this January and do a little review of each. I could review each one separately and make this a whole bunch of different posts, but to be honest, I’m too lazy to do that.
Rankings out of five in asterix in case you’re too lazy to read everything!

Looking-For-Alaska-John-GreenLooking for Alaska – John Green
I can’t recall whether I read this before or after Christmas, because I borrowed my mother’s kindle for a while in December. I may possibly have read this on her Kindle but either way –
John Green writes very accessible prose. Looking for Alaska is quite the easy read, and you really can get into the head of the main character. Alaska herself is a strange, inaccessible character – personally I really disliked her. Green, though, is immensely quotable, but I find it to be lacking… something. I don’t know what. His characters are easy to get into, but I don’t really connect to them. This book was a nice, easy read, but similar to The Fault in Our Stars, which I have yet to review, it didn’t grab me with the same emotional tug which most books will get me. And by that I mean it didn’t make me cry. And it’s not hard to make me cry. So, I don’t know. Good book, but there’s something… insubstantial about it.
***

hate-list-second-book-cover-httpwww-jenniferbrownya-comhatelist-htm1Hate List – Jennifer Brown
This book was one which I actually put off reading for ages. I had meant to read it right after I read We Need to Talk about Kevin, because it also deals with the aftermath of a school shooting, but I got distracted, and it languished on my hard drive for longer than I intended. When I eventually did get into reading it, it sucked me right in, gripped me the whole way through and took me on the emotional journey of the main character. It wasn’t quite as tough or gritty as I thought it would be, and it’s not half as bleak as Kevin. It’s still well worth the read, though.
****

perksThe Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chobsky
This one was kind of ruined for me, because my sisters went to see the film and their opinions of it meant that I had an idea of how the book went before I actually read it. But either way, it’s still a classic tale of first loves, growing up and accepting who you really are.
My sisters’ complaints about the film were right, though – the ending really jars and is quite unsatisfactory. It might be a classic, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be reading again.
***

190px-Funny_Story_frontIt’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
I don’t even remember why I have this book – I think it was Sinéad wanted to read it, so I just hopped on the bandwagon.
I’m glad I did, though. This one was very enjoyable. Another story about growing up, accepting who you are and accepting your limitations, there was something of a ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ vibe about this book, except without the trying to break out. Definitely an interesting one, but suffering from the same difficulty as Looking for Alaska, for me, it didn’t pack any emotional punch, so rather than being sad to finish the book and leave the characters behind, I was rather cold about them. Still worth the read, though.
***

13493463Eve and Adam – Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
When I was younger, I was a huge fan of Applegate’s Animorphs series. They were light, insubstantial books, but easy to read and the overarching theme of an alien invasion was quite interesting – the constant conflict in each book made them fairly entertaining. This book was written by Applegate and her husband, who’s also a writer. I had big problems with this book, though. It was quite… dull. The first 80% of the book builds, and if the proportions were different, I’d probably have quite enjoyed it. But the problem was, all the action happened in the last portion of the book, which for me came to about twenty minutes. It was too fast, it didn’t feel like there was any real conflict and everything was resolved too neatly. The idea was good, but unless you’re really a fan of dystopian books, I’d give this one a miss.
**

tumblr_ltxzyfftjG1qe0xj3o1_1280The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
This trilogy has been massive for the last two years or so – I read it only because Sinéad told me to, but I did enjoy it. This was a re-read, I think my second or third re-read, but it still stands up well.
The Hunger Games trilogy is very, very good. The second and third are weaker than the first, but they’re still well above most of the other books on this list, in my opinion. I’m sure there are billions of reviews out there, and this is only short but – I liked it. I liked that it was real, that it accurately depicted the raging PTSD Katniss had to deal with, and the huge costs of a rebellion/new order. At times it was a little predictable, but other times it came up with twists that left me reeling. And – most importantly – it had me in floods of tears several times.
***** for The Hunger Games,
**** for Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

landofstoriesThe Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell – Chris Colfer
This book was another one that Sinéad read before me. But I decided I’d give it a go, and put it on my Kindle to read on my way to college last week.
My main complaint about this book is that it’s very obviously a children’s book. But then, it was written as a children’s book, so that’s not really a complaint. It was predictable and a little dull in places, which I don’t think was just the fact that it was a children’s book. The idea, though, of visiting fairytale characters ten years after all their tales were finished was incredibly interesting. A good idea, but not pulled off as well as it could have been.
And do you know what really annoyed me about this book? The fact that Conner’s name was spelled with an e. That’s just weird, okay? Nobody spells Connor with an E! It’s one n, or two ns, whatever, but it’s always an O at the end!
**

CursedCursed – Jennifer Armentrout
This was a random book I saw in Easons last year and decided that I liked the look of it. I only got around to reading it this week, and I was absolutely right to judge it by its cover – it was interesting, dark, slightly twisted and mysterious the whole way through. The murkiness of the book was intriguing, and I actually didn’t manage to figure out what I should have done before the ending. Very enjoyable and engaging, but no tragedies here, so no tears streaming down my face. Would recommend it, though.
****

tumblr_leccxeKTvM1qav9ywo1_500Uglies, Pretties, Specials – Scott Westerfeld
This is a dystopian trilogy which I read when I was younger – not long after Leixlip Library opened, so I’d hazard a guess that I was about fifteen. There’s actually a fourth book, Extras, that I have yet to read, but it’s next on my list. It’s told from a different perspective, though, so it’s not a quadrilogy. In fact, the website refers to it as a trilogy plus one. I’m only talking about the trilogy though.
This is a really good dystopian trilogy. It reminds me very strongly of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium books. Or, actually, Delirium reminded me very strongly of this trilogy, since I read this first. They have very similar themes – an operation which fixes people turns out to be more sinister than it seems and civilization is found to exist outside of the strictly regulated cities the main characters grew up in – there’s even love triangles which are very similar – Alex and David match up closely to each other.
Having re-read this trilogy some seven years after its first outing with me, it hasn’t lost any of its appeal. I still thoroughly enjoyed romping through Uglyville, New Pretty Town and the Rusty Ruins with Tally Youngblood. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction.
*****

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Tentacles

I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini, a few weeks ago.

It’s quite a good book, quite an easy read, I fairly flew through it, but that might be because of my hour long commute to college and my brand new kindle, which was a Christmas present from my parents and is AWESOME.

But this isn’t a book review post.
It’s a sort of spring board.

In the book, in discussion with his shrink, the main character and narrator refers to his ‘tentacles’, the things in his life which make him feel overwhelmed and depressed.

I’m not depressed, but the idea of tentacles did give me pause for thought.

I’ve recently moved country. A new college, a new qualification, a fresh start. I’m leaving behind what happened in Ireland, because my time in Maynooth has passed, and it’s time to move on to a new part of my life.

There will always be links back to Ireland, of course. For one, my family’s still there, and my boyfriend, and my nearest and dearest friends.

But there are other links, more insidious, mundane ones, that I would rather sever. Unfortunately, they are the ones which are harder to shrug off.

There are tons of little stupid things which still grab my attention and still need to be looked after at home, bank things and personal things, and forms to fill in and other kinds of crap and I just wish I could shrug them all off and be done with it.

But a little like a hydra, every time I think I’ve gotten rid of one, it comes back, and two more appear.

So I don’t know what to do about all these tentacles still tying me to Ireland. There’s nothing really I can do, I guess, except deal with them one by one.

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I want that one

I was chatting to Kellie earlier about how I’m settling in to London, and how the house hunt is going. London is fine, but the house hunt is going terribly, for reference; don’t even talk to me about it.

But anyways, she had never realised that I have lived in London before. Naturally, when that fact came to light, the question which followed quickly behind was “Which do you prefer? Which is your favourite?”

My answer to that, as usual, is that I have no idea. So much your opinion of a place is wrapped up in your own personal experience of living. Although I grew up in London, its been ten years since I lived here. I remember a lot of things, but the places and the people have changed, I don’t fit in here yet.

Then Leixlip is where I spent the last ten years of my life, and changed from an obnoxious child to an obnoxious teenager to a (hopefully slightly less) obnoxious adult. All of the time I lived in London I was a child, and in school. Leixlip covered school and university.

Different places, different people, very different experiences, both of them. Sure we may as well throw in Lyon as well, as I lived there briefly. I can’t choose a favourite. There’s no real comparison between them – they’re different parts of my life, and I can’t and wouldn’t change that.

But giving the answer I always give when asked which I prefer, I moved on to a larger fact about myself.
I don’t have favourites.

I know that’s a strange thing to say, but it is true.
If you ask me to list a favourite anything – book, film, tv show, family member, anything like that, my answer will generally be that I don’t know. I can’t even pick a favourite friend (or a best friend, as they’re more commonly known).

I do have a favourite colour, and a favourite number. They’re purple and 13, for reference. But that’s about it. They’re just arbitrary choices.

When it comes to other things, things which you can have a proper opinion on, I’ll very rarely have a favourite.

Hear me out, though! Why pick favourites? Why limit yourself to just pointing at one and going – that one. That one right there I will always choose over any other, with no doubt or hesitation!

Why limit yourself like that? Why not like lots of things? Why not choose one book one day and another the next, and a third on Wednesday?

We live in a consumer culture. We never really have to choose between two things: we can have both.

And yet people insist on having favourites! Why? Why limit yourself? Instead, just have things you like and things you don’t like. You can even have things you really like, and things you like. But there’s no NEED to choose just ONE favourite. You can be all people and have all things – after all, if you pick up a computer now, every film and tv show ever made is at your fingertips, if you care to look for them!

I believe I’m just ahead of the curve. I do not have favourites, I just have lots of things I like. I don’t bother narrow myself down to one thing, because that involves eliminating things which I might really like. Also, people get insulted when you tell them you don’t like them as much as you like your ‘best friend’, and I don’t like insulting people, because then they cry, and I cry, and it gets very messy and so on and so forth.

So favourites? Who needs them? Certainly not me. I will have ALL of the things, all at the same time, or whenever I feel like it, and if my house is burning down and I can only save one thing, well then, I don’t know, I’d have to think about that. Probably my purse or my passport or something.

But in any case my point is, no favourites! Just have lots of everything!
Except boyfriends. That’s the kind of thing you should discuss with them, some of them get mad if you have more than one at the same time. Even if you tell him that he’s your favourite!

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