TTT: Wish I’d DNF’d

As I discussed fairly recently, i’m not very good at giving up on books, even when i’m not enjoying them. It’s not until i’ve finished, when I have all the information and when the book has not redeemed itself, that I think, “Yeah, I shouldn’t have bothered sticking with it till the end.” So for this week’s DNF-themed top ten, i’ve chosen the top ten books I should have not finished.

Ariel – Controversial right off the bat; I know a lot of people love Plath. I just didn’t get on with her poerty at all. It just seemed so bizarre and unconnected. I could barely make sense of it. Thankfully, poetry books don’t take too long to read!

Man and Boy – The one and only book by Parsons I have or will ever read. I found it dull as dishwater, eyerollingly predictable, and completely uninspired.

High Fidelity – Another so many people love. I just hated the characters. All miserable and selfish and blah. I wasn’t invested. There is one quote in this book that I adored, though—i’m at least glad I kept reading till then.

Weaveworld – This book just dragged with not a lot going on. Some of the language and themes were rather sexist and clichéd… i’m actually surprised I slogged my way through it. Having since read a book of Barker’s short stories and loved it, I can only assume novels are not his forte.

Girl, Interrupted – What a whiny, contradictory, self-involved wanker of a character. And as this is based on the real-life events of the author… I don’t like her much, either!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Again with a book so highly regarded. I found it awkward and amateurish. A poor narrative voice (and character—i found him so annoying), and a clichéd “find yourself” adventure. Yawn.

Rosemary’s Baby – This. Book. Made. Me. Angry. I literally wanted to throw it across the room at points. I was hoping so badly for some awesome turnaround in the conclusion… but alas, it just got worse.

Communion Town – I was just hoping for so much more from this book. The idea is sound—a collection of short stories set in the same fictional city. But the author was trying too hard, and it just didn’t flow or meld for me.

Looking for Alaska – Perhaps the most loved on this list? I’m sorry, but John Green is not for me. The writing is—fine (though full of quotable clichés). It’s just not challenging enough. I’m generally not a fan of YA as I find the genre generally too much of an easy read—i prefer something that will make me think.

The Hourglass Factory – A spur of the moment purchase I came to regret. Mystery, suffragettes, lesbians—it has some great ingredients. But the storytelling was poor, the plot meandered, and the climax not enough to save it.

Do you love or hate any of these books? What was your spin on this week’s theme? Link me up in the comments below!

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TTT: Won’t Re-Read

This was actually pretty hard. Generally, if I like a book, I can say that I would (in theory) re-read it. Looking though my list of books, i’ve come to the unhappy conclusion that realistically there aren’t many i’ll ever re-read, because i’ll more likely choose a book I haven’t read yet. But, regardless of free time and priorities, these are books I liked well enough, but won’t be reading again.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This is first book I remember finishing and thinking, “I really enjoyed that book, but I won’t ever want to read it again.” I think it was just a nice book to get lost in for a while, but was not so interesting that i’d want to revisit it.

Thirteen
This is the second book I remember having that same feeling about as soon as i’d finished it.

Any Carl Hiaasen book
I’ve enjoyed a few Hiassen books. They’re fine as a bit of escapism, but they all suffer from the same flaws. I’ll likely not read any more at all, let alone re-reads.

Life of Pi
I abandoned this book half-read the first time I started it. Not a good sign, I guess. But I finished and enjoyed it on a second go… still wasn’t thrilling enough to be re-read.

Notes from an Exhibition (or any Patrick Gale)
Gale’s books are not my usual type, but there is something I love about his work. I’ll read them as a little light relief between other books… but I don’t love them enough for a second go around.

What Dreams May Come
This book was lovely in many ways, but it had some major, unforgivable problems. I’ve loved the film for many, many years. Why re-read the problematic book, when I could just re-watch the film?

The Godfather
I loved a lot about this book, but the blatant misogyny seriously fucked me off. Another where i’d rather re-watch the film!

Gone Girl
I got sucked into the hype with this one, and while I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would… once you know the twist, what’s the point?

The Handmaid’s Tale
I loved the world building in this book so much, but honestly… it wasn’t actually as terrifying as I had prepared myself for. The world building takes priority over the story, and while that’s its strength in many ways, it makes a re-read highly unlikely.

High Rise
A fascinating idea and a creepy story… but it didn’t meet the hopes i’d held for it. In a different author’s hands i’d re-read the hell out of this story.

Where’s your TTT list at? Link me up in the comments.

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TTT: Forever Re-Read

It’s been a little while since my last Top Ten Tuesday. So long, in fact, it’s since moved from The Broke and the Bookish over to That Artsy Reader Girl. But it’s still going strong, and i’m still popping my head in when I have the time and the topic tickles my fancy.

I have so many freaking books to read that I very, very rarely re-read any. I wish I could. Once i’ve read a book, I only keep books I enjoyed enough to (in theory) re-read… and I keep like 95% of the books I read. So. It’s not for lack of wanting to re-read, it’s the guilt and anticipation over all those awesome books still waiting to be read!

But, if I had endless time, and 10 books I could read, re-read, and re-re-read, it would be these ones.

IT by Stephen King
I already have re-read this half a dozen times. It’s my childhood-becoming-adolescence book, and it will always hold so much of me in it for that reason. I couldn’t not re-read this book again.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
A spooky, but psychological horror. I’ve read it a few times now and it’s fascinating, how it mixes the supernatural and mental health aspects, and how characters are portrayed within that.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
A book about books. If i’m re-reading one, it might as well be one about all the books. Though when this book points out how many books I could conceivably read in my lifetime, and i’m wasting that time on a re-read, it’ll make me feel bad.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
This book is just so bizarre, but so obviously has method and meaning in the madness. It’s definitely one that would age well with each re-read.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (or the entire Wayfarers series) by Becky Chambers
This series is just utter perfection, and I would happily get lost in it over and over and over and… ♥

Why I Write by George Orwell
I devoured this the first time around, finding it educational, interesting, inspiring, and endlessly quotable. A re-read would let me soak it all a little more.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
One of my favourite Wyndham books, and one I pick up now and again to re-read certain sections of. I could never, ever tire of my main woman, Phyllis Watson.

The Passage (or the entire Passage triology) by Justin Cronin
An epic, brick of a book that I gave five stars to and had so little to dislike about… if i’m going to be re-reading books over and over, there are so many more interesting little details to be picked up from longer books.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Another long one—this one I simply got lost in. I wasn’t even that bothered about the story. I just loved the journey, and it is happily one I would take again.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Although part of a series, I find this book has a perfect arc of a narrative. The two timelines, how they connect, the twists and turns and just… satisfaction in the entire book. I’d love to enjoy that multiple times.

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Friday Face-Off: Stairs

I had planned to keep up and take part each week with this meme, but some how time got away from me. It’s definitely something i’ll jump into when i can, though! This was originally created by Books by Proxy, and Lynn’s Books has since taken up the torch!

This week the theme is book covers featuring a staircase, and the first and only book to spring to mind which would likely have covers featuring one was The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. At first i struggled trying to find a variety of covers with steps, but in the end i had too many, having to cut the number down from 11 to 8! They’re quite a mixed bunch this week!

I own none of these covers–my copy does not feature stairs–but i’m liking quite a few of these!

The first is a Dover Thrift Edition and i always love their covers. This is no exception. It feels classic, it fits the mystery/crime/thriller genere of the book and i really like it.

The second is simple with some great negative space. I really love the design, but the colour choices are a little too stark for my tastes.

The third one i like. It has the negative space, but with more interest and more to draw the eye. The colours and shadow are less–but not entirely devoid of–bleak. But the steps in the book are nothing like the steps show here, and that’s a bit rubbish.

The fourth one i like a lot. The colours really give it a spy/crime/thriller feel, i love the patterned colour and negative space, i love the simple representation of steps. This one hits it all for me.

The fifth is, honestly, the token terrible cover. I mean… it looks like a self-help book or a book about how to get into heaven. It’s horrible and hilarious.

The sixth is a Thai cover, and while not my favourite, is quite interesting. I like what it’s trying to do, i think. It has the vibe of the Dover Thrift cover, but done with a photo and MS Paint.

The seventh looks like a cheesy romance novel set in an old country house and it could not be further from the actual book. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so awful!

The eighth one i really like. It’s simple, but interesting. I like how unfussy it is, and i like the feet in the image. But it suffers in the same way third one does. They are nothing like the steps in the book, and the whole cover feels a bit too modern.

It is no surprise my favourite cover is number four. The colours, the negative space, the patterns… it has all the things i love in a book cover. Which is your favourite? If it’s the fifth one, you will have to find yourself a genuine self-help book!

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Friday Face-Off: Words & Letters

Friday Face-Off: Comparing the book covers of Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, featuring words and letters

It’s been a while since I took part in a Face-off Friday, but i’m back! Time to compare some book covers and pick a favourite. This was originally created by Books by Proxy, and Lynn’s Books has since taken up the torch!

This week’s theme is covers made up only of letters and words. I had a few contenders for this, but in the end plumped for Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger, because a lot of the covers for this are text-only, but still vary a lot. And (spoiler) I sort of love them all.

The first is the cover I own, and it’s fine, but it’s a bit too simple, for my taste. The swooping Y is the only thing it’s really got going for it.

The second is the style I own The Catcher in the Rye and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters in, and is the style I have a huge soft spot for, but unfortunately I couldn’t find Franny and Zooey in the same style.

The third is nice and simple, but with a little accent of colour in the corner. I like it more than the first. It’s classic and classy.

The fourth is a Serbian cover, and I like the bold blocks of colour, but after the understated theme of the first few, it feels a bit much.

The fifth is a Dutch cover, and i’m a little bit in love. It’s classy, a gorgeous light purple cover, simple font choice, and the subtle strips above and below. I adore this cover.

The sixth is a Finnish cover, and i’m into it. The sali-alinge-inger is a bit weird if you stop and think about it, but I do like the look of the thing.

The seventh is a Thai cover, and is another super gorgeous one. I think the font and the language–the curves and smoothness–is so pretty, with the rounded border to match. I also like the colour choices.

The eighth is a Hungardian cover, and I love the stark simplicity, the modern font, and the domination of the words in the space. A really striking cover.

But which one’s my my favourite? Definitely the Dutch cover. When I first saw it it took my breath away a little bit—i think it’s absolutely lovely! Which cover do you prefer, and why? And if it’s not the Dutch cover then what’s wrong with you?

TTT: Feminist Recommendations

With an open prompt this week of “recommendations for _________” I had a few ideas, but in the end I’ve decided to recommend a bunch of books for feminists, because I think a lot, if not all, of these books should be required reading for everyone—man, woman, child, and everyone in between.

I haven’t read all of these (yet!), but they all have important messages, whether straight up in essay form, or through a fictional narrative. I lovelovelove all the books here I have read, and can’t wait to get started on the ones I haven’t.

If you have any feminist book recommendations, leave them for me in the comments—i want MORE!

We Should All Be Feminists: A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.

Sisters of the Revolution: This book gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today.

A Room of One’s Own: Why is it, Woolf asks, that men have always had power, influence, wealth, and fame, while women have had nothing but children? There will be female Shakespeares in the future, Woolf argues, only if women are provided with two basics of freedom: a fixed income of 500 per year and a room of one’s own in which to write.

The Female Man: When these four women meet, the results are startling, outrageous, and subversive.

Bad Feminist: A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation.

The Handmaid’s Tale: In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the ‘time before’ and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

The Power: Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death.

Herland: A story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they’ve encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, “there must be men.”

The Trouble with Women: Can women be geniuses? Or are their arms too short? Why did we only learn about two three women at school? What were all the others doing?

Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology: Both a radical feminist history and a street art resource, this handbook combines short biographies with striking and usable stencil images of 30 female activists, anarchists, feminists, freedom fighters, and visionaries.

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TTT: Best Beginnings

Top Ten Tuesday is back to its regularly scheduled prompting next week, but there is one more topic from the vaults from me before then: The best book beginnings.

I love it when a book has a strong start. When it’s bold and daring and interesting and I immediately want to never put it down. It’s a fairly hard to achieve thing, and when I find it, I devour the book. So these are 10 books that had me hooked by the end of chapter one, even on the first page… and in one case, by the title and cover alone.

IT – I’ve reread the first chapter so, so many times, that even just the first sentence gives me chills of anticipation. It’s probably my favourite first chapter of a book, ever, if only because nostalgia.

Nimona – By the bottom of page two, I was smitten and I knew I was going to fall hard for this book and it’s light, joyful humour. I did.

The Passage – When a book hits you hard enough to have you sobbing your heart out by the end of the first chapter, and you have 900 pages left to go… it leaves an impression.

Ablutions: Notes for a Novel – With a very unique second-person POV narrative, and an actual LOL on the second page, this book had one hell of a hook.

Haunted – Sure fire way to gab my attention: gross me the hell out in the first chapter. It’s actually really hard to do, which is why I enjoy it when it happens. Kudos, Palahniuk.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil – I was in love with this before before I’d even left the shop, before I’d parted money with it, before I’d lifted it from the shelf. It’s no surprise to me that I genuinely call this book ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Awesome’ and don’t even realise that’s not what it’s called.

The Haunting of Hill House – Eerie, creepy, and very much haunting, this book has one of those first chapters that drags you in and immerses you into its world almost effortlessly.

I Am Legend – The tension builds so quickly in this book’s first chapter it’s almost tangible. I felt frozen and stiff with anxiety, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried. World building at its best.

Quite Ugly One Morning – I recommend this book a lot, but it’s always with the proviso that if you haven’t laughed by the end of the first chapter, just don’t bother carrying on. This book seriously needs to win some kind of Best First Chapter Ever award. It’s gross, it’s funny, it’s ridiculous—it’s perfect.

Tiny Deaths – So, technically, as a collection, it was the first story, rather than chapter here that had me hooked. But I read that first story because I found the book laying around… it’s the fact I had to go buy my own copy in order to read the rest that cements its place on this list!

What books had you hooked by the end of chapter one? Any by the first page?

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Face-Off Friday: Fire

This week, the covers that will be judged and compared all feature fire. It didn’t take me long to decide on a book; Firestarter by Stephen King was an easy and apt choice. There were so many covers to choose from! I limited myself to 8, with only one English language edition. They all, obviously, feature fire. Let’s take a look at them…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first is (apparently) the kindle cover, and I’ll admit i picked this because it immediately caught my eye and was my favourite of the English language covers. Bold colour, negative space, art. I love this one, straight off the bat.

The second is a German cover, and while i like the painful/angry hand gesture and the overlying flames, it’s in a cringy way. Overall, i have to say i’m not a fan.

Number three is a Hungarian cover, which i actually really like. For me it wasn’t obvious what i was seeing at first. It feels arty, and i like the colours. The fact that it’s then Charlie, the main character, and a unique looking fire make it stand out nicely for me.

Four is a Portuguese cover that i’m trying not to laugh at. Is this a book about fire ghosts haunting burning buildings? Because that’s what i would guess, looking at this cover!

The fifth is a Danish cover, and while i don’t hate it, it feels like a safe cover; a style that doesn’t stand out or offend. It’s average.

Number six is another good one. It’s a Spanish cover and it has negative space, an awesome font, a fire explosion that stands out brilliantly against the black. Another contender here.

Seven is a Czech cover, and this is another i love for the cheesiness. The literal hothead, the pink title that looks like it was made using Word. I love it, but i also hate it.

And the eighth is a Swedish cover, and a possibly surprising potential. I like the font and the wonk it’s on. I like the simple teddy bear on fire, and all that innocence/danger implies. Yeah, quite like this one.

Results? Although i really like the third, sixth, and eighth, that first one hits all my most favourite cover penchants so spot on. It’s another one i’d frame!

What do you think of this selection of covers? Which is your fave? I won’t laugh (to your face) if it’s one of the cheesy-cringy ones 😉

TTT: Quotes 2016/17

I’ve done a couple of quote-themed TTTs, but the last one was in 2015. I figured I should do an updated 2016/17 one. Because I do love a good quote. So here are my 10 favourite quotes from books i’ve read in the last two years.

Some tell it that ‘sorry’ is the hardest word, but for me it has always been ‘help’.

Mark Lawrence – Emperor of Thorns

Nothing in the media provides pleasure as reliably as books do—if you like reading.
And a good many people do. Not a majority, but a steady minority.
And readers recognize their pleasure as different from that of simply being entertained. Viewing is often totally passive, reading is always an act. Once you’ve pressed the On button, TV goes on and on and on… you don’t have to do anything but sit and stare. But you have to give a book your attention. You bring it alive. Unlike the other media, a book is silent. It won’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room. You can hear it only in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you like TV or a movie does. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you. To read a good novel well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is a collaboration, an act of participation. No wonder not everybody is up to it.

Ursula Le Guin – Staying Awake While We Read

In general I can tell those who haven’t suffered trauma from those who have just by looking at them. It’s marked on their foreheads and it shows in their eyes. The ones who saw something unbearable and continued living anyway.

Monica Byrne – The Girl in the Road

If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you wrong me, shall I not fuck your shit right up?

Christopher Brookmyre – Dead Girl Walking

They were the eyes of a person who knew he was as good as dead. When you have that look, you’re not young or old, or black or white, or even a man or a woman. You’re gone from all those things.

Justin Cronin – The Passage

He was a positive force. But only because he chose to be one.

Nnedi Okorafor – Lagoon

“And if, one day,“ she said, really crying now, “you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud. All right?”

Patrick Ness – A Monster Calls

Bill felt panic trying to rise and pushed it back. It went, but not easily. He could feel it back there, a live thing, struggling and twisting, trying to get out.

Stephen King – IT

“I can wait for the galaxy outside to get a little kinder.”

Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By revolution we become more ourselves, not less.

George Orwell – Why I Write

Have you read any good quotable passages or lines lately? Share them in the comments!

Friday Face-Off: Knife

This week’s cover comparison theme is knives, and i decided to go for some clear knife-themed covers by choosing The Knife of Never Letting Go. I haven’t actually read this book yet, and the cover i own does not feature a knife. But those facts aren’t going to stop me.

Here are the covers, which all link back to their respective goodreads pages.

       

The first two are both English language editions, and i like them well enough–simple artwork, negative space, interesting font. They’re the simple easy choice; there’s nothing i dislike about them, but they don’t grab my attention, either.

The third one is a Turkish cover. I like the shape, with the knife and the kid and the dog, and i like the negative space. But i don’t like the colours or the patterns. What could have been quite striking is, i think, lost in those too-bold colours and strange patterns.

The fourth one is an Italian cover… and it really suits that, i think. I like the black/white/touch-of-red colour scheme here, and the negative space that creates. It’s simply and bold without being too much or too little.

The fifth is a French cover, and i like a lot about this. The shadow as the blade of the knife, the blocking, shady font, and the negative space that fills most of the cover. I love it all, except the colour. Which is a shame, as it’s the main thing about this one!

The sixth one is a Romanian cover. This one took a little while for me to process, as it’s a bit busy. But i like the lines and broken patterns. The colours are an odd choice, but after the garish reds in other covers, it’s a welcome difference. The white font is also a notable difference, standing out nicely against the pink.

The seventh is a Swedish cover. I like the font, but otherwise almost nothing appeals to me here. It seems like a silhouette photo of the knife, with an vague out-of-focus background. The black and brown colour choices are a bit dreary here too.

The eigth cover is Chinese, and again, i don’t favour the abundance of red personally. I don’t hate the knife and the face within it, but it isn’t what i am usually drawn to.

Of the covers here, I have to say the pink and blue Romanian one is my surprise favourite. It’s striking and different and interesting. I quite love it. However, i’m going to throw a little spanner in the works, and add a bonus cover. It didn’t make the cut above because it doesn’t have a knife on the cover, but for my tastes it is a perfect cover. It’s a Russian cover, and the artwork, the font, the colours, the negative space are all spot on… this cover is amazing.

What do you think? Which cover do you prefer and why? It’s okay if you love all the red–someone has to.