Thursday, 26 February 2015

\\ The Thirty-Day Book Challenge Tag! //

~I was tagged by my lovely friend Liv, whose blogpost you can find right here~

1) One book series I wish had gone on for longer...
I think it's worth mentioning that all the series I've ever read are YA, excluding the LotR books, so I'm probably going back to my early teens here. I loved the Immortals Series by Alyson Noel. There were seven books in total: Eternal Flame (prequel), Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star and the conclusion came with Everlasting. I genuinely loved each one - each one more so than the last. I started from the very beginning and would always be excited for the next one to come out, which is unusual for me because I don't usually get so attached to a series (most of the time I'll get bored part way through or just can't be bothered to buy the next book). It was about magic and potions and auras and 'immortals' (like vampires) and love triangles and... it was just perfect for me at that time, at that age. I haven't done justice to the series in this short paragraph but if you want to check it out, here's a synopsis on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3975774-evermore. I think it's something you have to grow up with though, so reading it at seventeen or eighteen years old might not be for everyone (the time might have passed is what I'm trying to say, but by all means, give it a go if you want to).

2) Favourite side character:
Side character? Hmm. Is that someone who's not a main character in the book but still plays a small part? I'll say Eowyn from LotR because I feel a lot of sympathy for her. She was clearly in love with Aragorn and he was getting there with her but he went back to Arwen and ugh. No.

3) The longest book I've read:
Goodreads tell me that Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer is the longest book I've ever read, at 756 pages.

4) Book turned into a film and completely ruined:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I think most people who read the book before seeing the film will agree that they didn't do it justice at all. The casting wasn't right.. it felt forced.. It's supposed to be a book to make you question important issues and I really think the film is just something for fangirls to put on when they need to cry to be honest. The film completely ruined my relationship with the book aswell, because prior to seeing it in the cinema it was my favourite.

5) My 'comfort' book:
Maybe The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald? Exquisitely written. Easy to follow once you've read it a few times. Parties, alcohol, the American dream. If imagining the Gatsby life doesn't cheer you up when you're down I don't know what will.

6) My most read book:
Embarrassingly, I used to re-read extracts of Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (the same goes for Gatsby and TFIOS), but I think the only book I've properly re-read all the way through (and not for college reasons) is Pretty Face by Mary Hogan because it was a childhood favourite.

7) A guilty pleasure book:
I'm a little bit ashamed of any romancey-vampire kinda stuff, although I do love the supernatural theme. Namely the Twilight saga, although I do still read The House of Night books (of which there are many) and I need to get back on The Vampire Diaries.

8) Most underrated book:
All the books that I really like are already really popular so I can't really recommend anything you won't know! It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is really good.

9) Most overrated book:
Looking For Alaska by John Green! I just don't get it, guys! What's the fascination? The ending is predictable, I didn't really like the characters... I could go on but meh.

10) A book I thought I wouldn't like but ended up loving:
Okay so the first time I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro I didn't really like his bland writing style. But when I read through it again to find quotes for my college essay, I really began to appreciate that he was trying to reflect how alien and empty the clones feel and now I think it's kind of a masterpiece. Not one of my favourite plots, though. I also liked The Kite Runner more than I thought I would.

11) Favourite classic book:
In terms of classics I've only ever read Shakespeare, and so far, they've all been great, although I don't think you can sufficiently appreciate his plays unless you see them performed. I saw a really good production of Twelfth Night in Sheffield last year. I'm in the middle of a really old copy of Homer's Odyssey at the moment, and also Bram Stoker's Dracula because I'm really disorganised and crap, but I'll probably have to come back to this question.

12) A book I've wanted to read for a long time but still haven't:
Loads! Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin) and The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) are the first ones that spring to mind.

13) A book that disappointed me:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I absolutely hate the protagonist, Holden Caulfield; all his little repetitive phrases bother me a lot.

14) A book that made me cry:
The Fault In Our Stars, but who didn't?

15) A character I can relate to the most:
Probably Daisy from The Great Gatsby, which probably isn't a good thing. I mean I'm not a murderer or anything but she doesn't seem to know what she's doing or what she wants half of the time. She's attracted to parties and beautiful things.

16) Most thought-provoking book:
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. A lot of the book is about what consciousness is and where it began. There's also a bit of sex addiction in there... and science... and parallel universes... yeah, odd blend.

17) An author I wish people would read more:
I wish Dec would read the bloody Twilight series so we don't have to argue about its contents all the time! ;)
As for everybody else, I'd actually recommend C. S. Lewis, because I loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid. Also, he was great friends with Tolkien, so, yano.

18) A book I wish I could live in:
The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien! This book was amazing, the description was like.. oh, my. Also, Gatsby. Have I mentioned Gatsby enough?

19) Favourite book that I own:
Gatsby (sorry). But I adore my hardback edition of Dolly by Susan Hill.

20) A favourite author:
Tolkien, obviously. Fitzgerald. Susan Hill's always fun.. uh, Stephenie Meyer? I don't know, I haven't read the entire works of any author yet so this is probably another one I'm going to have to come back to in future.

21) Favourite childhood book:
Tommy Sullivan Is A Freak by Meg Cabot is up there... although it's mysteriously changed its name to Pants On Fire since I read it... what's with that? There's also Pretty Face by Mary Hogan which I think I've already mentioned but it started off my love for Italy so I owe a lot to that book, to be honest.

22) Most overused plot:
Okay, any book with a love triangle in. So that basically includes almost every supernatural-themed book I've ever read. Twilight, The Immortals, The House of Night etc...

23) Best book I've read in the last 12 months:
Gatsby, hands down. Only discovered it in 2014.

24) A book I'm embarrassed to say that I enjoyed:
Going to leave this question because it's basically exactly the same as the guilty pleasure.

25) The most surprising plot twist or ending:
The Host by Stephenie Meyer has a good twist at the end. Delirium (Lauren Oliver) is good for this question also.

26) A book that made me laugh out loud:
There's an extract from TFIOS that me, Dec, and Manleen like especially - it's when Isaac goes blind (sorry, spoiler) and he's trying to get his video game character to "hump the moist wall".

27) A book that has been on my to-read list for a while:
There's loads on my to read list on Goodreads! I'd say The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman which I FINALLY PURCHASED last week. Can't wait for that one. I'm really intrigued by The Shock of The Fall aswell at the moment.

28) My favourite quote from a book:
Again, there's quite a few:

  • "It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted things had diminished by one.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • “It seemed to me that I had already seen everything pure and good in the world, and I was beginning to suspect that even if death didn't get in the way, the kind of love that Augustus and I share could never last. So dawn goes down to day, the poet wrote. Nothing gold can stay.” - John Green, The Fault In Our Stars
  • “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither; Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
29) A book I hated:
The Railway Man by Eric Lomax. I know it's an autobiography and Eric actually went through all those terrible things and, I'm sorry Eric, but I just couldn't get through the book.

30) A book I couldn't put down:
There've been loads. I demolished the Twilight saga, and TFIOS, and Delirium, AND The End of Mr. Y. 

Wow, that was long. Thanks anyway to Liv, I enjoyed it. Not gunna tag anyone specifically, but if you're reading this and you want a go, consider yourself tagged. Meaghan x

Friday, 6 February 2015

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas // Review



"When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a secondhand bookshop, she can't believe her eyes. She knows enough about its author, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed. With Mr. Y under her arm, Ariel finds herself thrust into a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time travel."

First, on spotting The End of Mr. Y being proudly displayed on the bookshelf in the charity shop where I volunteer, I fell for the cover and it's black-stained edges. Then I fell for the blurb. Love, sex, death and time travel? What's not to like? I purchased the copy (which I think is probably one of the most good-looking books I've ever seen) and began reading it almost immediately at home. I was still in the middle of Return of the King by Tolkien but I was kind of infatuated with Mr. Y. If you happen to be interested in buying your own copy of the (huge) paperback edition I read, pictured above, you can find it with the ISBN 1847671179.

As you can probably tell, the blurb didn't give away much about the actual plot, so I went into it a little blind, but from what I knew, it had all the ingredients to become one of my favourite books. I won't pretend I was interested in all of the content, like I thought I was going to be. There was a lot of science-y stuff in there that I had a grasp on at first (I think I barely understood sub-atomics, for instance), but as the book went on the topics changed to things that were, I think, a little beyond my realm of understanding. It wasn't all about the nitty gritty, though. In layman's terms, the book was about another fictional book, also called The End of Mr. Y. In the book, written by (fictional) author/scientist Thomas Lumas, there lies the secret to time travel; a recipe for a serum, which, when digested, transports the person to another world called the Troposphere or 'MindSpace', while their physical body lies in slumber (imagine an Avatar-type experience, with a slightly more virtual, video-game setting). The Troposphere is slightly different for each individual, but you can't stay there for too long, or you'll find there are complications - namely the two men that follow Ariel back from the Troposphere.

I agree with Ursula's point that "[Ariel's] voice expresses a personality, certainly, but not a very winning one." The main character Ariel is possibly a little sex-addicted, saying she had "slept with hundreds of men," possibly to get over a rubbish relationship with her parents. I don't know whether I really liked her, but at the same time she wasn't hard to tolerate. She was certainly clever, and in a way, independent. There were, however, times when she allowed sex she wasn't entirely comfortable with, but we're usually told about these experiences in hindsight and not in too much detail, thankfully. But it's not only Ariel's story we're told. The 'console' in the Troposphere allows you to jump from mind-to-mind, resulting in lots of streams of consciousness, briefly each time, but we always return to Ariel. We enter the mind of a homosexual man who has been dumped, and lots of teenage girls; some worried about weight, some worried about unrequited love. I thought this was a really clever way of exploring issues.

This probably isn't a book for the easily-offended, even though I think it's quite a fun and quirky idea mashed into a complex(ish) plot. If you wouldn't like getting in the mind of someone who likes sex, don't read it, basically. It wasn't what I originally expected - it was a bit mental to be honest - but also very enjoyable and readable. Although the main character is going-on 30, it was actually an especially good book for me to read, as an 18 year old who is growing out of YA fiction and looking for something more 'mature'. I guess it could actually be classed as a 'new adult' book, seeing as Ariel's a University student, so I definitely recommend it to anyone who's in college/Uni in the UK. I couldn't put it down. I think it's meant to make you question the impact language has on our minds and our consciousness, and it does, strangely, make you want to make the serum just to see if it actually does something. Give it a go - Do you think you could resist the temptation?

Rating: 3.5 stars (I'd love to give it 4 but it was just lacking in something)

"The sky was the colour of sad weddings"

For more book reviews on updates, become my friend on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/32076954-meaghan!