TTT: Books I’m Not Sure I’ll Read

A while back I did TTT about books I know I’ll never read, but there are also a lot of books I’m not sure if I want to read or not. These are books that have piqued my interest in some way, but for one reason or another I still have reservations about. Some of them I even own a copy of, but still can’t commit myself to reading…

Catch 22
This one has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. In my head it’s in the same league as Nineteen-Eighty Four, and I want to read it, but just can’t decide if I’ll actually enjoy it. I think it’s the wartime setting putting me off the most. I just don’t know!

Fates and Furies
I’ll be honest, it’s the cover that drew my attention to this book—it’s gorgeous. The synopsis is more troublesome. It sounds like it could be a really interesting character-driven novel, but I’m not the biggest fan of books focused around characters over plot. It also sounds very relationship-focused, which again is not normally my cup of tea. Do I really want to take a chance on a book that’s nothing like I’d normally read for a beautiful cover?

1Q84
This one sounds interesting, but I’ve not looked into it deeply or read any reviews, and its length is a tad intimidating. I think this one will remain on the ‘maybe’ list until I hear something about it that pulls at my interest a little more.

We Are the Ants
Again, a book I love the cover of. Again, a book I’m not sure I like the synopsis of. It sounds… weird. But like, a weird that could be amazing or a weird that could be cheesy and just bad. There’s nothing there that’s telling me to take a chance on it, yet.

Moby Dick
Another classic. I do love classics, but this one I can’t commit to, and I’m not even sure why. I guess I don’t really know much about it. A dude and a whale, right? But what’s the story there? Maybe I’ll never find out…

Black-Eyed Susan
I often love the general premise of these popular thriller novels, and love the twists and turns in any book. But I’m also wary of the more popular thrillers. I enjoyed Gone Girl and Girl on the Train well enough, but they fell shy of being amazing books for me. This might be a book I’ll eventually pick up when I want a quick and easy, but twist and turny read.

Final Girls
This one caught my attention because I love horror films and studied them at university, so the idea of the “final girl” is not a new one to me. My hesitancy is similar to the book above, in terms of hype and mediocrity, but also it not being what I’d want it to be. As a horror/slasher fan, I’d want a book centred around the concept of the ‘final girl’ to be filled with references and nods to the genre while turning the trope on its head a little… I greatly fear I wouldn’t find that.

Riddley Walker
This book sounds fascinating, but also intimidating. The unique writing/language style is apparently important to the book and the character, and finding out why and what it’s all about is hugely intriguing. At the same time, I worry I wouldn’t be able to hack reading it for long enough!

The Humans
I had this one on my radar and it was recommended to me, but still I’m not sure. The premise sounds interesting enough, but the book generally strikes me as one of the “average” types of books I’d usually avoid. The kind of book that appeals to people who don’t usually read or don’t read a lot. The kind of people who just want a light book to read while on holiday. And that’s just… not the kind of book I like.

Short Fuses
I bought this one from a charity shop on whim, simply because it’s book of short stories and I love short story collections. But. But I know absolutely nothing about this book. It’s from a collective known as The Book Shed (or just The Shed, I’m not entirely sure), and there aren’t really any reviews of it online. And, if I’m honest, the graffiti-style cover becomes less and less appealing the longer I think about it and don’t read it…

Have you read any of these books? Want to help persuade me into reading (or not reading) one? What books can’t you decide if you want to read or not?

Friday Face-Off: Planet

Another fun and silly weekly meme, because why the hell not? This one is from Books by Proxy, and it involves comparing different covers for a book and picking the most attractive one.

This week’s theme is covers with planets on them. My first thought was A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but I figure maybe quite a few people will do that one. Instead I thought I’d go much more obscure.

My book is Quest of the Three Worlds by Cordwainer Smith. And here are the—frankly, hideous—covers…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first one is the cover I own. I like the colours and the classic pulp science fiction cover, plus that awesomely cheesy tagline!

The second one I found on Google Books. I’ll come right out with it—I hate this one. It’s too shiny and modern and characterless.

The third one is a Spanish cover. I love the purple. I love the negative space (which is, in this case, actual space). I love the font. I love the stars, the twinkle, the swirls.

The fourth one is a German cover. It’s definitely the most bizarre. I like that it makes me asks a lot of questions (like who is this woman and why is she popping up out of the paving?), but let’s be honest it’s pretty ugly.

It should come as no surprise that the third cover is my favourite (I used the word ‘love’ four times, for goodness sake!). The first one is a close second, if for nothing but the array of colours.

What do you think of these covers? Which is your favourite and why? If it’s the weird German cover I promise I won’t judge you.

Save

Save

Save

Save

TTT: Frame-Worthy Covers

As I have admitted several times before on this blog—i judge books by their covers. I love a gorgeous book cover. I won’t buy a book solely based on its cover (coughanymorecough), but it will entice me to pick it up and find out more about it.

I chose this topic for today’s TTT because when I bought the first book on this list (a mere three weeks ago), I admitted to the guy in the shop, “I love that cover so much, I want to frame it and hang it on my wall.”

My cover love themes are well-established and show themselves strongly here: artwork, limited but bold colours, negative space…. these covers are just gorgeous.

 

 

SeasonsTiny DeathsWeird LiesThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

       

 

 

 

 

 

LagoonThe Instrumentality of MankindDeeperWonderbookSoppy

 

 

 

 

 

Any and all John Wyndham covers – I actually do have plans to get a bunch of these printed and framed

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful People: Author Edition

As well as reading books and writing reviews, I write stories. I’ve never really done anything with my stories before, but I want to start posting them here. It was always my intention when I started this blog, but I’ve been more than a little nervous about it these past four years. Not because I don’t think my stories are good—I like them and that’s good enough—but because I’m just a tad bit precious and finickity about this blog. I didn’t like to disrupt the order I created.

Ultimately, though, it’s my blog and it shouldn’t matter if it gets a little out of order—chaotic, even. Keeping it organised only leaves huge gaps where I don’t post for months. And that’s a bit pants, really. So I’m going off-script and diving into writing and posting stories, as well as still reading books and posting reviews. I hope you’ll find your way amongst the disarray!

To start off the writing aspect of the blog, I thought I’d jump in to this month’s Beautiful People—a writing blog meme hosted by Further Up and Further In & Paper Fury. This month they’ve posed some author-focused questions, so I thought it would be a good month to hop on board and kick start the writing aspect of the blog!

How do you decide which project to work on?
Whichever I’m in the mood to write. Whichever has my creative juices flowing. Whichever one I’m drawn to.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Depends on the project, but mostly I write short stories. If I’m focused I can finish something in a day, stories that require a little more thought or effort can take a few days. If you include sending it to my proofreader and editing, it can be a couple of weeks. Of course, other stories I’ll sit on for months or years before I do the final tweaks and declare them “finished”.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
I need clear time in front of me. I’m not great at getting my head down when a sudden 10 spare minutes show up. I need to know I have a good chunk of time to myself to focus. I’ll put music on—usually Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Rós. I close my internet browser!

What time of day do you write best?
Afternoon or evening. I prefer getting any chores out of the way so I can’t distract myself with them later, or have them hanging over my head. I also like to relax with a beer while I write, as I find it loosens the brain muscles and I get into a flow easier without over thinking. I also write better when I’m tired for the same reason.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
Errr… I don’t know. If we run with the idea that the authors a person reads the most influences their writing, then I’d say Christopher Brookmyre, Stephen King, and John Wyndham.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I was a big reader as a kid, and as well as reading, I would write. I have books I started writing by taking a wad of A4 paper, folding it in half and stapling it down the spine. I drew front covers, wrote straplines and blurbs. I went all out. I loved books, and I didn’t want to stop at reading them.
I keep writing because I love figuring out which order to put the words in. That feeling you get when you have a thought, and articulate it accurately—it’s addictive. I love reading my stories back years later and thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s actually good!’

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
I do a lot of free writing and personal diary-sort of writing. Nothing I would ever publish or even show anyone. Some of that has been hard. Life experiences, lessons learned, secret thoughts. I often try not to read them back; they are certainly the hardest thing I’ve read.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
A couple, actually. One involves a lot of research-reading, but will be a hell of a lot of fun to work on. The other I think I just have too many thoughts and expectations about, and is a much larger project than I’ve ever tackled before. A small character/origin-driven story is first on my list for that one.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
There was a 30 day writing meme I started—hahahaha—years ago that I want to finish this year. I’ll be posting those here when i’ve made a little more headway. And generally the goal is be writing stories and posting the stories here on a regular basis. I also want to research and find places to submit my short stories to. Online collections, published anthologies, whatever. I want my stories out in the world.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
Always over thinking!

TTT: Made Me Think

I love books that make me think, that require engagement, that I get more out of by how much I put into them. The best books for me are books that have depth, or address issues, or just have a lot going on. As much as I enjoy a lighthearted bit of fluff sometimes, I crave more weight, insight, and philosophy in my fiction. Sorry not sorry.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read and enjoyed for how much they’ve made me stop and think, and consider, and figure shit out.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – My first dystopian, all those years ago. I’d never read anything like this before, but on a sunny holiday, after reading and rolling my eyes at the likes of Man and Boy, High Fidelity et al, I devoured this book. It was my gateway fiction.

Day of the Triffids – My first science fiction. There were aspects to this book that horrified me, but thinking about why they were included and what they were saying about the world gripped me.

Days of War, Nights of Love – This is a book designed to challenge the way you think, and the way you think about things—yourself, your job, your life, your outlook. I would make it required reading for everyone. (And oh, look, you can read parts of it right here!)

Crome Yellow – This one was a bizarre read. I could only read it a chapter at a time, because it used my brain so much it left me tired. But it has so much depth—it’s funny and interesting and complex and brilliant.

The Dispossessed – No government vs controlling government plus a parallel timeline culminating in the two most important scenes in juxtaposition… so much to think about!

Breakfast of Champions – Another bizarre one. I think it would be so easy to dismiss most of this book as just bloody weird, but I think that does everyone a disservice. But to say I was sure about the deeper meanings would be a lie. I took more meaningful things from it, at least.

The Female Man – More required reading. Offering the same character in different worlds, and what a difference society makes to a person—a female’s—life. This book had some epic chapters that I want to print and frame and hang on my wall.

The Paper Men – Introspection and psychology. I read so many reviews hating on this book, but I fell head first into it and adored every word.

The Girl in the Road – This one was hard work. Might be worth a re-read in the future because there was so much there. So much symmetry, referencing, and philosophy that was hard to grasp at first. But that’s why it’s on this list!

Why I Write – This book was a feast. The entire time I was reading it I was energised and analysing and just completely pumped. It articulated things I already felt so well, and opened my mind to things I’d not really considered but made so much sense. This book, folks—this book!

What books have made you think? And did you like being made to think?

TTT: Memory Wipe Re-Read

New prompts for Top Ten Tuesday have been put on hiatus, but that’s not going to stop us, right? If anything, it has encouraged me, because it means I can delve into the archive and pick any old theme that takes my fancy!

This week I’ve chosen books I wish I could wipe from my memory and re-read as if it were the first time. These are books that I had a particular kind of love for. A love that had me clutching the book to my chest when I finished it. That kind of love comes from being completely immersed in a book and swept away with the world, the characters, and the story.

These books stayed with me long after I finished them, and I’d love to be able to experience all that again for the first time.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Any and all books by Christopher Brookmyre

What books do you wish you could re-read for the first time? What impromptu or old school Top Ten Tuesday themes are you doing while new ones are off the cards? What Top Ten Tuesday theme should I do next week? Should I ask any more questions?

A Monster Calls

Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Summary: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.5/5

Review: When i bought this book from my local comic book shop, the guy behind the counter warned me to have a box of tissues nearby when i read it. He wasn’t wrong.

The story is a simple one, but one well told, with depth and meaning not immediately obvious. It’s hard, reading about Conor coping (or not) with his mother’s illness whilst also trying to navigate life with a grandmother he doesn’t get on with, fights with friends, stand offs with enemies, and an all but absent father. His visits from the monster are almost a relief… taking him out of that world, but still, abstractedly, dealing with the issues from it.

This is a book that deals so well with grief, and loss, and change, and all the messy human emotions that people experience. And it does that so, so well. Never heavy-handed, never too vague. The story is a dark one, but manages to tell it with a certain lightness–an approachable ease; it wasn’t really until three quarters of the way through that it hit me in gut and pulled hard at my emotions.

And the artwork… they are something to get lost in. The full page spreads are packed with detail and texture, while the smaller pieces blend and weave with the words to make a more immersive reading experience. All the artwork is in black and white, and though in some ways that seems stark, in more ways it only enhances the importance of the story being told. The images are striking and bold while never drawing too much attention away from the words.

The end… well. The reader knows what’s coming, just like Conor. And just like Conor, it’s not easy to go through. But it is important.

I do think this is a five-star book, but i just can’t bring myself to give it five stars. It’s a very good and important book, but it’s also a hard book. It’s sad, and although i loved and appreciate it… i can’t celebrate it. If that makes any sort of sense?

TTT: Imprint Covers

Today’s topic is a cover-themed freebie. Usually i don’t like freebie weeks; i find it too open and can never narrow down an option. However, when my partner suggested imprint covers, i knew it was the one.

It’s as often an imprint i’m drawn to as it is an author. It’s great to see a book i don’t own or haven’t read by an author i like, but it feels pretty safe. Seeing an imprint i love of an author i haven’t heard of or have never read feels more like an exciting recommendation. I love that these imprints are recognisable in style and general design, while each book still have its own image, theme, or pattern. I love distinctive yet simple imprints–it makes me want to collect them all!

And so, these are the imprint covers/editions that when i catch sight of them in a bookshop, will drawn my attention and have me browsing with interest…

SF Masterworks

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin English Library

 

 

 

 

 

Gollancz 50

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Dover Thrift Editions

 

 

 

 

 

Faber Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

…Turns out i like classics–who knew? (Me. I knew.)

TTT: Deterrents

In the antithesis of last week… ten things that will put me off wanting to read a book.

This ended up being just as hard as the last list, too. Which surprised me, as i usually really enjoy talking about why i don’t like books! Somehow it’s different when it’s about choosing whether to read a book or not. Oh well. On with the list!

Young adult – This won’t automatically put me off a book, but when i find out a book is YA i get a bit more choosy on other criteria. YA tends to be a less-interesting read for me, so unless the story sounds superb, i won’t usually bother.

No female characters – I prefer a little more representation in my books, please. No boys club crap.

Love story focused – If the main plot is about or focused around a romance, i’ll likely pass. I’m just not that into it.

Character-driven – I do, on the odd occasion, enjoy a more character-driven story, but on the whole i prefer a more plot-focused narrative.

Bad writing – Nothing will put me off quicker, actually. Thankfully i haven’t started reading too many badly-written books (i’m looking at you, James Dashner), but snippets i’ve read from books have been bad enough to put me off.

Hype – Again, not something that will instantly have me dismissing a book, but something that will make me more wary. Often times, hype surrounds books that are… mediocre. I’ve read and enjoyed books that were wildly popular but i would still describe as mediocre. I’m just more picky about them when everyone’s singing their praises.

Tacky covers – Covers with a script font, or girls in big dresses. Covers with sullen looking teenagers or an obviously will-they, won’t-they couple. Covers with a close up eye or a popular tourist location. Urgh. No.

Uninspiring synopses – When the description is too vague and doesn’t actually reveal enough about the story to be enticing.

Being compared to another book – If i liked the books it’s being compared to, it’ll never live up to the comparison. If i disliked the book it’s being compared to, why would i want to read it? Just tell me why this book is good!

Hardback – Heavy and large and cumbersome and no, thank you.

I feel like a lot of the things listed here will be things plenty of other people who look for in a book. How do you feel on the matter?

Save