Books Guaranteed to Make you SMILE :D

sun has got his hat on

It’s been a lovely week, all sunny and summer-like (and okay it was overcast today, but whatever, can’t win em all). Anyway, moving on, I thought I’d share some fun books which made me happy, in the hope that they will make you smile too!

carry on

Carry On– I mention this book *a lot* but some books just deserve to get mentioned all the time- and this one just so happened to make me smile from ear to ear! And yes- it’s a satirical take on Harry Potter– that’s why it’s similar.

wonder

Wonder– this is a “happy” in a life affirming kind of way. This is seriously moving, yet will also undoubtedly make you crack a smile for sure!

howl's moving castle

Howl’s Moving Castle– despite not enjoying the sequel as much, I can’t deny how much I adored the original. The characters and world are so vivid! And of course, like many of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, it made me exquisitely happy.

northanger abbey

Northanger Abbey– I can’t have a list about books that made me happy and not include Austen on it. I absolutely adore the romance in this one and it makes for a fabulous subversion of the gothic tropes.

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever After– I mean the clue is in the title 😉 I kinda had to include it on this list- it’s such a delightful contemporary.

the hating game

The Hating Game– this is another romance that made me stupidly happy. I didn’t expect to love this quite as much as I did, but it had me laughing the whole way through and I couldn’t stop reading this addictive book.

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– I read this really recently and haven’t done the review yet, but I guarantee it will be positive, cos this book was SO GOOD and made me SO HAPPY. Yes, it was totally out there as a historical retelling, but that’s what made it so brilliant.

the martian

The Martian– a story about getting stuck on Mars- how can that make you *smile*? I hear you ask. Well, that’s thanks to the indomitable Mark Watney! His fantastic sense of humour could make even potato farming in space interesting!

blithe spirit

Blithe Spirit– this is another weirdly happy story- it’s a play about a man whose dead wife comes back to haunt him and it is SO FUNNY. Yup, you read that right, a play about being haunted is funny. I recommend the 1945 film as well 😀

going postal

Going Postal– on the topic of eccentric British work, I could hardly neglect to include Pratchett. This is one of my favourites and happens to be one of the funniest- need I say more?

And last but not least…

 

 

We Go to the Gallery– Yes this may look like picture books, but they are in fact adult picture books! Which is totally different, cos, well they’re hilarious! Definitely recommend checking the series out and plus they make a really great gift if you’re ever stuck for something 😉

So have you read any of these? Did they make you smile? And what books have made you smile in the past? Let me know in the comments!

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Series that went on too long- lots of mini rants!

I considered being nice and titling this list something like: “series I lost interest in”- but that would be totally disingenuous, cos if I lost interest in a lot of these, I wouldn’t have bothered to read so many before calling it quits (in some cases 6- yes 6!- whole books!).  So instead, these are my (entirely subjective) book series that went downhill and could’ve stopped earlier:

Poison Study– Jeez- where to even start? I’ve said a number of times that I had given up on this series, because after the first book it was all over the place. It went from really unique to generic fantasy to WTF is even happening to oh gosh why… So yeah, I should’ve called it quits around book 2/3, especially considering how much I hated 3. The first books as well were originally a trilogy and that would’ve been fine- I should’ve stopped there. But, of course it continued and because *I am weak* and saw this in the library last week, I will admit rather shame-facedly that I finished this series the other day (to be fair, I was trying to counterbalance some of the darker books on my tbr as well). Thankfully it wasn’t the clusterfuck I’d come to expect from the series, although that doesn’t mean it was good #somuchguilt

Twilight– I will happily say that the first book isn’t that bad. I know this is unlikely to make me friends in either the Twihard group or the Diehard-We-Hate-Twilight side- nonetheless, I still consider book 1 firmly as a 3* read. Sure, it has sparkly vampires (for which this series has a special place in the circles of hell) but apart from that it’s pretty enjoyable. If it had ended there, with Bella becoming a vampire, it would have been a decent standalone. What, prey, could be worse than sparkly vampires? I hear you ask. Well let’s see, the later books devolved into: the unnecessary breakup book, the “is this whole book really centred on a marriage proposal?!” book, and finally the “did this just accidentally endorse paedophilia?! I am OUT!” book. Yeahhh there are good reasons why I stopped liking that series.

The Mortal Instrument– I’m kind of including all the spinoffs here as well and the reading order I did, just to be clear, was Infernal Devices, Mortal Instruments and now reading Dark Artifices (so help me!) I really loved the Infernal Devices series (though I get why if you’ve read Mortal Instruments first this might feel a bit samey) and thoroughly enjoyed Mortal Instruments overall (even though they are very similar to TID). But then, books 4-6 came and they just felt totally unnecessary (in fact, they were tacked on after the original trilogy ended, figures). And now I’m stupidly continuing with TDA- basically cos I want to know that one thing about parabatai- yet I’m not enjoying it anymore. I’m sorry, I know people love this series- I’m just finding it *so repetitive*, some of the bad guys less nuanced and the rest of them not properly bad at all. I think there are some redeeming features- only it’s not as good as it used to be.

Alex Rider– how many times can Alex Rider save the world in a year? For that matter, why are so many villains trying to *destroy the world* in the space of one year? And before people get annoyed at me for beating on a children’s book, I read this when I was a child and my teenage self could see how totally implausible this was, so… Seriously, why did Alex Rider have to stay 14 for the duration of the series? Plus, how many broken bones does he get that somehow heal? Doesn’t he get shot at one point? And go into space? How could he…? How?? Yeah, this got dumber and dumber.

The Savant Series– erm, I kinda blame myself for continuing this series. I viewed it as a bit of fun, especially the idea is basically *psychic soulmates*- which is basically enjoyable for a couple of books before it gets tiresome. I mean, how many times can this actually work? The primary reason why it’s on this list is cos the characters and situations they found themselves in got more and more annoying. I get it’s a cashgrab from suckers like me and I don’t really know what I was hoping for when it got to book 6- I just think the romance part could’ve been consistently good, even if the concept got old.

Stravaganza– I actually really love the first book and still recommend it to everyone- but you can just stop there and read it as a standalone. Even though there’s hints of bigger stuff going on, even after 4 or 5 books (I lost track of how many I read) it never really goes into the bigger conspiracies. Also, the whole book’s idea was that it’s a way of people from our world resolving their problems in an alternate-universe version of Venice and while the first person has cancer, the problems get significantly less important. This may be a bit harsh, but I like stories to up the ante, not feel tired and been there-done that.

The Declaration Series– again, I think it’s totally worth reading the first book. It’s actually a very cool dystopian take on what the consequences of living forever would be. And while it suffers from that YA need of turning everything into a series and resolving all the dystopia-problems (you know that annoying reset-the-world thing YA dystopias do), I don’t think the later books had to be so terrible. Both the original concept and the basic plots could have worked. HOWEVER, there was so much unnecessary filler- in particular the last book spent about half the page count recapping the first two books- WHY?! I am really not a fan of recaps in books (all the credit to Mark Lawrence who recently came up with the genius idea of sticking that in before the book starts) but I do get why people like a paragraph or two- half the book however?! Nope- no way! And I also thought the ending was infuriating (spoiler alert: they reset the world *and* hinted that in ten years it’d all just end up happening again… why?! You can’t have your cake and eat it too!!) So yeah, this one gets me all heated and no one gets it cos barely anyone made it to the end.

So do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Are there any book series you’ve fallen out of love with? Let me know in the comments!

Popular Books I Hated

A lot of these aren’t necessarily highly rated (most of these don’t have the best GR scores) they’ve just been read by *a lot* of people. But for the ones that are well loved- try not to crucify me for having a different opinion- thanks! The clue is in the title: these are not books that I liked, so don’t get upset that I didn’t like them. And if you think the title’s harsh, just consider the fact that I could’ve titled this “shit books that I hate” like Lily C on Youtube (really recommend by the way).

Fifty Shades of Gray– let’s start with the obvious one. I can’t be diplomatic about this: I think Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most loathsome books of all time. In fact, it’s my quintissential example of a bad book (so thanks for being that I guess, everyone needs a go-to bad book). I mean, you’re free to like it, whatever floats your boat, but it’s objectively awful: badly written, has a bad plot (*ahem* no plot), bad romance (not the ra ra ooh la la kind), bad sex, bad characters, bad messages. Just bad. It reads like it was written on a Blackberry when the author did her groceries… and I know for a fact half of that statement is 100% true. *Sigh*.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin– I started my book blog to complain about this book- no joke! (so I guess I owe it a vote of thanks, cos I don’t think I’d ever have plucked up the courage to get going otherwise). This was my first review (not the best review, but whatever)- I was bored for huge parts of it and when I wasn’t bored I was raging.

Da Vinci Code– I don’t really need to explain this one. It’s a dumb book. The plot is dumb, the characters are dumb and the writing is dumb (also I read this when I was thirteen and it made me lose faith in adult’s taste in books for a good five years).

The Selection– I feel like this is low hanging fruit at this stage. I hated the characters and if I’d heard of the bachelor before I’d read it, I never would’ve picked it up, cos this not. a. good. idea. Plus, America (the character not the place) sucks.

As I Lay Dying– this book basically explains why I hate postmodernist claptrap: it’s illogical, it makes no sense and the people peddling it are out of their mind with pretentiousness (and that’s me being generous).

Nutshell– bravo for butchering Shakespeare! (*sarcasm detected*) Perhaps I wouldn’t have hated this up-itself book so much if it hadn’t been a retelling of Hamlet- oh the folly of writing such crap and calling it intellectual. Then again, it’s also really crass, so I don’t think it could have stood on its own merit anyway.

Lolita– I don’t despise Lolita- it is at least well written. But it is also completely disgusting and I hated every second of my experience with it. I would have happily DNF’d this if it hadn’t been for a class.

The Sun is Also a Star– this is probably the highest rated book on GR to make it onto this list- I just… hated it. The premise is stupid and basically reads like instalove on acid. And the female lead rubbed me the wrong way.

The Fault in Our Stars– yep grab your torches and pitchforks! This isn’t the worst book on here, but I still didn’t like this book. It was predictable, the characters didn’t talk like normal human beings let alone teens and some of the *oh-look-at-this-symbolism* went too far- that scene where they’re snogging in the Anne Frank museum is in poor taste.

The Eye of the World– I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. I really didn’t like this and I don’t think anything’s going to change my mind. It’s dull and full of infodumps and feels like a ripoff of far better fantasy. I have never looked at the page count more for any other book.

Girl with a Pearl Earring– way to ruin a great painting with stupid internal monologues and presumptive bilge. The worst thing about this is that the mc’s voice and story doesn’t even fit with the feel of the painting. It doesn’t capture any of the essence of Vermeer’s artistry and feels like it’s piggybacking off of a much finer piece of work.

Okay, so agree or disagree with my list? Do you hate any popular books? Let me know in the comments!

Movies (and TV shows) That Were Better Than The Book

So I mentioned a few days ago that there are a fair number of movies I like better than their book counterpart and I thought I’d share them with you! I should probably say, first of all, that these are adaptations I personally prefer- not that they’re actually better- to each their own and all that jazz. Anyhoo, let’s get to this:

Princess Diaries– to be fair, I really really dislike these books. The main character is whiny, most of the other characters are pretty loathsome and basically this book got on my last nerves. The movie, on the other hand, is a lot of fun (I think the books did get more bearable, imo, although the second film was… ehh).

Stardust– I feel like this comes up in every “better than the book” list ever. And there’s a reason for that- and it’s not that the book is bad- it’s just that the movie is seriously A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I get all light and happy when I think about it!!

Oliver!- well for one thing, Fagin comes across as slightly less of an anti-Semitic trope in the musical (I’m not even sorry for pointing that out, cos if you think a money grubbing, dirty Jew character that preys on children isn’t anti-Semitic, then maybe have a long hard look in a history book). I do like Dickens, but that last statement should probably explain why I’m not the biggest fan of this book. On the positive side for this musical, it’s practically perfect in every way, so there’s also that. And yes, the musical is more chocolate-boxy than the book, but I prefer it that way.

Game of Thrones– this is a curious one for me to include, because I’m increasingly realising how well these work in tandem. What worked best (imo) was the TV showrunners cutting the fat from the original books. And boy, is there a lot of fat. In fact, some of this is literal- why on earth there needs to be long, tedious descriptions of feasts and food, I have no idea. Add to that a bunch of characters in later books I had limited interest in and, yeah, I’ll happily admit to liking the TV show more (most of the time, when characters aren’t going north of the wall wearing impenetrable plot armour and fighting zombie bears… man that was dumb)

Lord of the Rings– ermm I think I’m about to have my Tolkien-fangirl card revoked for saying this… I just prefer the movies! I’m sorry! Don’t get me wrong, I really love the books- only the LOTR movies are probably my favourite movies ever. The way I see it, the LOTR movies streamline the story and deliver the emotional punch of a lot of the backstories and are simply full of epic awesomeness- okay? (I do however much prefer the Hobbit book, not just because it’s up there as one of my fave books, but also cos the Hobbit movies suck- and yes, I will fight you on that *catch me outside*)

The Last Kingdom– this is another one that might piss of fans of the books. Hear me out, I did actually really enjoy reading the first four books (and am waiting on number 5 at the library) I just think the TV show got my blood pumping with *even more* fervour than the books did. And I also frankly adored the portrayal and slight changes to Uhtred’s character, which made him even more likeable.

Bleak House– poor Dickens isn’t getting very nice treatment from me today, because the main reason why I prefer the tv version is that I saw it first, and that ruined a lot of the book’s impact for me. I do think this translated so well to the small screen and it’s one of my favourite adaptations, while, like many of the others on this list, it’s not one of my favourite books.

Okay, that’s my list! It’s not very long, because I usually like the book better. Anyway, what movies do you think are better than the book? Let me know in the comments!

And thank you so much for your brilliant responses to my last post- I’m still going through them and I’m thoroughly enjoying every single one! 😀

Forgettable Books… Already Forgotten…

The problem with a forgettable books list is I’ve forgotten a lot of the books that I want to put on here. Never fear- goodreads is here! After trawling through some books I read years ago and documented on there, I was able to find at least some books that I don’t remember reading at all.

Wolf Brother– I *wish* I could remember this- I know that I loved it and I have a vague sense of the characters and story- but not enough to continue the series (and I only had one book to go as well!) It’s been driving me nuts that I can’t think of enough of the plot, because I feel like I’d have to reread the rest of the series to finish it and I can’t be bothered to do that.

 

Across the Nightingale Floor– even reading the synopsis, I don’t remember it at all. It sounds very different and like something I’d enjoy- apparently I did as well.

 

 

The Merrybegot– reading the summary I have vague memories of this and apparently I liked it.

 

 

Goddess of Yesterday– I seem to recall once reading a loose YA version of the Iliad that was decent… could this be that book?

 

 

 

Unwind– apparently I hated this, so it can’t be such a bad thing that I can’t remember this- apparently time heals some wounds!

 

 

Odin’s Voice– I do remember parts of this, but I’ve blotted out huge amounts, cos for ages it was my least favourite book. It starts off as an interesting take on slavery, takes some weird turns (I don’t remember what they were thankfully) and then they go into space for no reason. Yeah this book sucked. It’s no wonder I don’t want to remember it.

 

Sepulchre– this was part of the series and I liked the first one and can picture some of the scenes, but I cannot for the life of me think what happened here.

 

 

The Savage Garden– I actually remember two things about this: really overlong, up itself descriptions of the garden and an awkward sex scene. Kind of explains why I thought of it as pretentious and didn’t like it at all.

 

 

The Pledge Series– I can recall that this was really generic and not much else. I know that the girl had powers that made her *super special* and there was *romance*. But yeah, this was the height of the whole dystopian YA phase- I don’t know why I should even be worried that I don’t know what was in it. She saves the world and defeats the baddie. That’s it.

The Testing– one thing I remember from this incredibly mediocre dystopian story is how often we were told the mc was *the smartest smarty pants among all the super smart people!* and how rarely that was actually shown. Other than that it’s a blank slate. I think there was some sort of Hunger Games style contest?

 

See this whole list is why I do reviews! I don’t think I’d have forgotten nearly as much of these books (a lot of which I apparently liked) if I’d just written something down about my impressions! It’s a little frustrating! Then again, some things are better left forgotten…

Do you know any of these books and can you fill in the gaps for me? And do you have any books that you know you’ve read, but can’t remember? Let me know in the comments!

Books That I Think Will Be Future Classics

No doubt whatever I put on this list will be controversial for academics and bookworms alike. So I do want to clear some things up: I’m specifically going for “classics” in the academic sense, not “stand the test of time” books (there is, in my humble opinion, a difference). You’ll probably be able to note the books that I think are simply wonderful, but that don’t fit well enough into that category. This is a combination of books I personally admire and my own experience of the canon, not what I think the most popular books of our time are and I do hope people won’t be offended by what is/isn’t on here. And obviously, this doesn’t mean that I think I’ll be right, because who knows what the future holds? University students might very well end up studying Noddy in 2200 for all I know- at least I won’t be around to see it 😉 Without further ado, here are some books that I reckon *should*/*will be* the classics of the future:

The Book Thief– I hadn’t mentioned this book in ages… and now I’m mentioning it twice in a week- figures 😉 It is an *amazing*, inventive and emotional book. I definitely think this is the sort of book that would be worth delving into a little deeper, whether or not it does end up getting studied in the future- at least in schools surely!

Homegoing– a modern day epic, spanning centuries, it’s a remarkable piece of literature. With so many embedded themes and stunning writing, I’d be amazed if this didn’t end up on a university syllabus in the future.

Memoirs of a Geisha- Again, I’ve mentioned this recently, but I do think it’s a singularly striking story. I think this already has the label of “modern day classic”- but I don’t set much stock in that label. Most of the time it seems like a marketing ploy to be honest. However, when it comes to this book it’s pretty apt.

Never Let Me Go– yep, this also falls into that category of “modern day classic”- yet it’s fully deserving of that moniker. The writing, while unshowy, is very powerful and there’s a lot of fascinating themes about what it is to be human here. I certainly think it’s worth studying in greater depth.

A Thousand Splendid Suns– I know a lot of people would put the Kite Runner ahead of this- and I’ve no doubt that both will end up as future classics. The reason I put this ahead of Hosseini’s other books is quite simply because I love it so much!! Beyond the emotional depth, the writing is seductively beautiful and the story itself speaks to the human experience.

The Shadow of the Wind– I’m trying to not include books in translation, but I can’t help it with this one, because what a gem this book is! In any language, this book speaks to my soul and truly captures the essence of what it is to fall in love with stories. There’s so much here to admire- the characters, the multi-layered story and the wonderful writing. I certainly think there’s grounds for further exploration of its literary merit.

The Northern Lights– this could be hit or miss, because there’s a snob-value that goes into these decisions, and depending on the university, some do not see fantasy like the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings as a classic (they’re wrong, but whatever). Purely going on my own experience at a redbrick, this could be studied…

Neverwhere– again, I can’t say for certain that this will end up as a future classic- but it definitely deserves to be. Unlike a lot of the books on here, this isn’t my favourite by the author (though it’s wonderful), only I think this is the best example of all the symbolism and intrigue that Gaiman has to offer. I do know someone that did their dissertation partly on American Gods, so it’s not totally implausible as well.

There are a couple of other books that I’d like to put on here but I’m a bit more sceptical about whether they’d make it into the canon (even if I think they should). In the meantime, which books do you think will be future classic? Let me know in the comments!

Once was enough… Books I Loved But Probably Won’t Reread

 

orangutan list.png

I don’t normally do weekly memes, but I do really enjoy reading them. As a lot of you probably know, Top Ten Tuesday had a fantastic topic this week on “Books I loved, but will never reread” and it really got me thinking does this apply to me? I mean, I’m not a huge rereader anymore (so many books, so little time!) however, I do hoard books that I love in the hope that I will get a chance to reread them someday. Nonetheless, the more I thought about it, the more I realised there are some books which I gave all the bananas to and can’t see myself picking up again. Evidently, it’s not Tuesday, but I thought I’d share my list, because why not?

memoirs of a geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha– I adored this book. Still, this is one of those books that I feel I read at the *exact* right moment and I don’t know that I want to ruin that. Especially since I now know how inaccurate it is- I think I might be better served staying in that world and exploring it from a more authentic angle in the future.

facing the light

Facing the Light– do you ever have a book that you look back on with rose tinted glasses even if you know objectively it’s probably not as good as you remember? That’s what this book is for me. I was captivated by this when I read this as a teen and ended up fixating on the authors work (even though none of her other books ever held the same magic for me again). So yeah, it doesn’t make sense to reread it and risk ruining my memory of it.

poison chris wooding

Poison– my nostalgia is strong for this one. I can remember falling in love with this and being blown away by the story in so much detail. However, that’s in some ways to the book’s detriment, because I can’t bear the idea of not loving it as much the second time round. It’s such an unusual book that I’m even reluctant to mention it sometimes in case other people don’t love this hidden gem as much as I did- so how could I cope if I reread it and didn’t fall under its spell the second time round? Nope, as wonderful as I remember this book being, the experience of reading it is best left safely in the past.

book thief

The Book Thief– I do actually want to reread this- I’ve picked it up many times thinking I might. Yet the thing that always stops me is how much it emotionally *wrecked* me the first time round- I’m not sure I could knowingly do that again. (Who knows though, I might end up feeling like a good cathartic cry someday…)

1984 book

1984– I have actually reread this one, so it’s kind of cheating putting it on here, but the first time I read it I was sufficiently creeped out to say “I’m never reading this again!” Of course, I didn’t keep to that, so who knows? I could totally end up going back on my word again for this one.

jude

Jude the Obscure– speaking of emotional books, I don’t know many other books that are as traumatising as this. I think it’s a masterpiece- and yet I can’t see myself ever being able to reread it.

rape of nanking

Rape of Nanking– okay this is not something I will say I loved per se, but it really fits with the “once was enough” theme. Quite simply, there are few books more harrowing than this and I can’t foresee any situation where I’d want to even think about it too much. This is one of those books that it’s worth reading once in a lifetime- and no more.

and then there were none

And Then There Were None– it doesn’t really seem worth rereading a murder mystery, does it? Well at least not for me, knowing exactly what happens kinda ruins the pleasure of wondering who dunnit. Besides, there’s loads of other Christie books to choose from- I may as well pick one of those.

we were liars

We Were Liars– this has turned up on a few lists and I totally get why. It was beautifully written and incredibly moving- however, knowing all the twists will kinda take a lot of the fun out of rereading it I think. The first time I read it was so impactful- I don’t know that I could ever replicate that feeling.

life of pi.jpg

Life of Pi– this book is so hit or miss for people, so I was nervous about going into it. Luckily for me, it was a massive hit. As much as I don’t like to be swayed by the court of public opinion, I do see its faults and I’m worried I won’t get as much out of it the second time round- particularly because I now know exactly how it ends.

And that’s all from me for today! What do you think of any of these books? Which books do you love but won’t reread? Let me know in the comments!