2014 – A year in review…

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Well, it started off well, but tailed off towards the end of the year. I had a major life event and unfortunately my reading went out of the window…

So I managed 34 books, lots more graphic novels this year, and lots of fantasy and science fiction. I’ve read more on my iPad this year, especially comic books which I find a lot easier to get hold of and to read on it too.

I didn’t manage to fulfil my A-Z challenge or my goal of 50 books, but onwards and upwards, and this year is a new challenge.

I hope to read 50 books this year – hopefully I’ll get there, I feel back on track with my reading now, and I’m really enjoying curling up with a book in this horrible British winter weather…

Thanks for reading my blog last year, I’m all up to date with last year’s reviews now, and can start on 2015’s…!

TTFN,
Laura

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Book Number 2: The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

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I use Grammarly for proofreading
because there is nothing more embarrassing than critiquing a book and then finding typos in your own writing!
It’s been on my shelf for a while…

The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

201 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Science)
Sunday 5th January –  Sunday 19th January (15 days)
2 morning, 3 afternoon, 2 evening.

This has been hanging around and waiting for my attention for a while now, but I kept being put off by the fact that I thought it was going to be complicated. I was worried it might be a bit too complex and that I would get bored because I didn’t understand, and therefore be put off finishing it.

I was wrong of course, this book is written for normal people, not theoretical physicists, and even someone like me, who has a fairly basic understanding and knowledge of science, can easily pick this up and get on with it.

Hawking is also quite dry and amusing, and framed with the diagrams and illustrations, manages to explain even the most complicated of ideas and concepts. Throughout the book we touch on string theory, quantum physics, worm holes, even time travel, with Hawking discussing theories, ideas and concepts in a fairly easy to understand way.

It does what it says on the cover – explains the universe in a nutshell, from its possible origins, it possible endings, and everything in between, gravity, light, atoms, particles, what the smallest thing we know of is, what’s outside our universe, what might happen inside a black hole?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a bit of curiosity about the world around us, and the universe and how it works. I will be reading “A Brief History of Time” and searching for some of the other physicists and works listed in this book too.

Next book: The Mad Ship, Book 2: The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

Book Number 1: The Wilful Princess & The Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

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First book of the year…

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

157 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Wednesday 1st January – Sunday 5th January (5 days)
2 morning, 1 afternoon, 1 evening.

What a great way to start the new year! I really loved this book!

I have been a Robin Hobb fan for about 15 years now, and Gareth and I saw this in Waterstones whilst christmas shopping. I resisted temptation and didn’t pick it up, and lo and behold, Father Christmas obviously saw me looking and bought it for me!

Set in the Farseer world, with Wit magic (the ability to speak to and bond with animals) this book follows the story of Princess Caution (the Wilful Princess) and Prince Charger (the Piebald Prince). Told by the companion of the Princess, Felicity, we see the story of the Witted prince overthrown from the throne, through jealousy, prejudice and pride. A story of how being witted has become such a bad thing in the Farseer world, this is a brilliant little piece of ‘history’ which not only helps to add colour and depth to the world she has created but also is a beautiful little story in it’s own right. I have always wondered why Wit was so looked down upon in the Farseer world, and this elaborated on the story and made the prejudices in the books make more sense.

I love Robin Hobb’s books anyway, and have read the Farseer Trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy and the Liveship traders trilogy, as well as the Soldier Son trilogy, and I love the worlds she has created. This book is a bit of a departure as it’s a novella compared to the 500 page novels I am used to by Hobb, but I loved it nonetheless. It was beautifully written, in the voice of Felicity, and kept me intrigued and interested throughout. The illustration in the book were stunning and not only enhanced the story but have made the whole book a lovely experience. I have re-awoken my love for these books, and I have decided to re-read the Liveship Trader trilogy before moving on to the new Rain Wilds Chronicles.

Next book: The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

Book Number 40: Fables Volume 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

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Last book of the year…

Fables Volume 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

Fables Volume 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

168 pages
Genre Fiction (Graphic Novel – Fantasy)
Friday 27th December – Monday 30th December (4 days)
1 morning, 2 afternoon.

My first dabble into Comixology and reading a comic book/graphic novel on my new iPad mini… and it was a good experience!

So this volume sees a very pregnant Snow White give birth… to not one baby but a litter of hybrid wolf children. This means a move to the Farm for her, coinciding with Prince Charming coming into office as the Mayor of Fabletown. Bigby goes off in a sulk, and we see a back story of his involvement with World War 2.

I can’t get on with the Snow White character, she winds me up a bit, so I found it difficult to care much about her, or her weird little brood of children. I miss Bigby though, and I like his character development so far, and look forward to reading more about him, and seeing something good happen to him! I was pleased with the ending, where his father shows up… and the bizarre behaviour and appearance of the children starts to make more and more sense.

Prince Charming is obviously and predictably not doing a great job as Mayor and I really felt for Old King Cole when he was ousted out of office… it’s interesting to see where this storyline will lead with most of the Fabletown inhabitants on the verge of an uprising, very disheartened by the lies of Prince Charming.

I am enjoying this series as a bit of light-hearted entertainment, but it’s not the best graphic novel I have read. This volume kept me interested and I want to find out more, it’s well written for the most part, I just find Snow white a bit much and keeping up with so many characters – something I think is a flaw in the writing as I don’t have this problem with other books, such as Game of Thrones.

A nice finish to the year!

40 books in 2013. Happy New Year!

Book Number 39: X Saves the World by Jeff Gordinier

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Last book for the A-Z challenge…

X Saves the World by Jeff Gordinier

X Saves the World by Jeff Gordinier

179 pages
Genre Non Fiction (Sociology)
Friday 13th December – Wednesday 1st January (20 days)
4 morning, 5 afternoon, 4 evening, 2 night.

An interesting read about the generation Xers – the generation after the baby boomers, slackers and dot-com entrepreneurs who have changed the world. Based on an existing article by the author, this book expands on the theme.

I enjoyed this, it was insightful, interesting and funny. Generation Xers are not, in Gordinier’s opinion, born in a certain time or place but are part of a certain cultural and intellectual group. The references back to 90’s pop culture were a part I particularly enjoyed, and many of the arguments he made and the points he raised took me back to a time when I was a young art student…

Not so much a manifesto in my view, but an interesting (if slightly long winded) read all the same.

Next book: Fables Volume 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

Book Number 38: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

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Something festive for the season…

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

247 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Saturday 7th December – Thursday 12th December (6 days)
4 morning, 1 afternoon, 1 evening.

A festive book about a little Norwegian boy, Joachim, who discovers an unusual Advent Calendar in his local bookshop. The advent calendar has a little slip of paper behind each window, which tells the story of a little girl called Elisabet.

Elisabet is travelling through time and through the world back to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ, and picks up the 3 wise men, shepherds, angels, lambs and more on the way. Along the pilgrimage we find out about the different towns they travel through, and more about Jesus and Christianity.

This was a very festive Christmassy book, but a little bit too religious, I felt a bit preached at at times. I really like the idea behind the book, but I did get a little bored here and there. I am not sure if this is because it is a translation, but I found the writing a little dull sometimes. However, if you try not to take the religious aspect too seriously, it’s, in most places, quite a gripping read. I read Sophie’s World about 10 years ago and loved that, but this didn’t seem as good… (but then would Sophie’s World stand up to a second read for me now?)

The only thing that is slightly weird is the story of Elisabet herself. It’s a little dark, and I’m not sure what you are supposed to take from it… but I don’t want to ruin the story, so I’ll leave you to read it for yourself… definitely worth a read at this time of year.

Next book: X Saves the World by Jeff Gordinier

Book Number 37: The First Casualty by Ben Elton

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Next on the list…

The First Casualty by Ben Elton

The First Casualty by Ben Elton

444 pages
Genre Fiction (Historical Drama)
Wednesday 20th November – Saturday 7th December (18 days)
8 morning, 4 afternoon, 6 evening.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the last Ben Elton book I read (Blind Faith) so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, which is a shame as I used to really like Ben Elton books. My faith has been restored.

This book is brilliant, poignant, funny, sad, a very good read. The book is set in the First World War, and we follow a Police Inspector – Kingsley – who refuses to go to war due to it not being logical. He is asked to investigate a murder in a military hospital of Viscount Abercrombie, which ends up taking him to the front and into the middle of battle.

It’s a very good read, funny, well written and well developed characters. It’s sad in places, describes the horrors of war both on the front line and in the military hospitals. The book touches on the themes of feminism and suffragettes, the logic and morality of war, and the politics of the time. Kingsley is perfectly offset by Captain Shannon, a misogynistic arrogant sadist, who treats women like objects. He is complimented by the fantastic Nurse Murray, who I loved, a feminist Suffragette who works in the military hospital and takes a liking to Kingsley. I enjoyed reading these characters, I thought the story was good, and whilst I am no expert on the historical side, I thought it conveyed the time period very well.

Next book: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder