November 30, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 30th


Hello, everyone! The last day of autumn is here and I'm ready for the winter and the holiday season (I know it's early, but I can't wait for Christmas to arrive). Anyway, like every Monday, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.


  • Hatchards, the oldest bookshop in London, released a list of the best novels of the last 200 years, After this list, they asked all the customers to vote, in order to decide which one of them is the best. The results are finally announced and the readers have chosen The Warden by Anthony Trollope as their favourite novel of the last 200 years.


  • The Ladybird book series is getting an adult remake! Penguin has released eight news instalments for the series, which will be penned by Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley.They were published on November 19.

  • A new audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice is been prepared, narrated by Rosamund Pike. You can listen to a small recording!

  • A list of the best-selling manga for 2015 is now available. There is no surprise here, as One Piece was the top-selling manga for the seventh year in a row.

  • Those of you who have read Oliver Twist are familiar with Fagin. This character is said to be based on a real-life figure named Isaac "Ikey" Solomon. You can read his story in this very interesting article.   


  • What Book Universe Do You Belong In? Take the quiz to find out! I got Wonderland, how about you?

November 28, 2015

Play(list) by the Book: The Slade House


Hello, everyone! I'm so so happy that I finally got the chance to create another literary playlist. And what's making it even better is that it's a playlist based on David Mitchell's new novel The Slade House. For such a short novel (only 238 pages long) the playlist is quite long, so sit back and enjoy!



As usual, in the playlist I've included all the songs and artists mentioned in the novel. When a specific song isn't mentioned I picked one that I liked. Special case in this Play(list) by the Book is the song Here Comes the Bride which is mentioned as  a parody with lyrics 

"Here comes the bride
a million miles wide"


Previous Play(list) by the Book here.

November 26, 2015

Thursday Quotables: The Slade House



Hello, everyone! Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is hosted by 
Bookshelf  Fantasies. Every week we highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.




Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! So, after a small absence from this weekly feature, I'm finally back on track. For this week, I'll share with you some quotes from David Mitchell's latest novel The Slade House. It's basically a ghost story, but it's amazing (I couldn't expect anything else from my favourite author).

1.
The clock's really tall. I put my ear against its wooden chest and hear its heart: krunk...kronk...krunk...kronk... It has no hands. It's got words instead, on its old, pale-as-bone clock face, saying TIME IS and under that TIME WAS and under that TIME IS NOT.

2.
If you don't feet into the system, the system makes life hell.

3.
People are masks, with masks under those masks, and masks under those, and down you go.


Have you read The Slade House? Which one was your favourite quote?

November 25, 2015

Weeckies: The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells


Hello, everybody! This week's short story is The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells. It was first published in 1911 in the collection The Door in the Wall, and Other Stories. But the edition I read is none other than Penguin's Little Black Classics #77, A Slip Under the Microscope


I've enjoyed immensely the H.G. Wells' novels that I've read, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. Also, The Door in the Wall wasn't my first attempt to read Wells' short stories, since I've read Empire of the Ants, and Other Stories. So, I had an idea what to expect although this story isn't as hard science fiction as are some of the author's other stories.                                                                                                                                                           Lionel, a promising politician, confides in his friend a secret that he carries almost all of his life. When he was just a little boy, he wandered alone and found a white wall and a green door. His urge to enter this door was so great that in the end he ended up opening it. It turned out that the door led to a different world with a different quality, a warmer, more penetrating and mellower light. After this experience, he tried to find this door again but he couldn't. It only appeared to him at random moments and for one reason or another he didn't open it again. The knowledge of what he was missing was devastating to him.

Only one person is of interest in The Door in the Wall and that is Lionel. For this reason, we learn nothing about the narrator of the story. He is just the one that passes along the story, without judging or offering his own view. Indeed, the reader is the one to ultimately decide whether Lionel's story was real or fantasy. The reactions of the politician are intense, the agony and frustration that this door makes him feel seem real. But this is an extraordinary story, something that cannot be explained with science and the mind can't quite grasp.

   We see our world fair and common, the hoarding and the pit. By our daylight standard he walked out of security into darkness, danger, and death.    But did he see like that? 

November 24, 2015

Manga Review: Flower in a Storm by Shigeyoshi Takagi


Title: Flower in a Storm

Author: Shigeyoshi Takagi

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Date of Publication: 2010

Number of Volumes: 2

Number of Pages: 200 (each volume)

Find it at: Book Depository (Vol.1), Book Depository (Vol. 2)


Summary

Love is like a storm. Riko Sassoku is trying to lead a normal high school life when Ran Tachibana bursts into her classroom carrying a gun and telling her that her life is now his. Ran, the richest, most powerful 17-year-old in Japan wants her as his wife, and he's not taking no for an answer! If Ran can't capture her by five o'clock the next day, he'll give up on her, but he has all that money can buy at his disposal. However, Riko has one trick up her sleeve--she has superpowers!

Review

It is the truth that I enjoy a lot a good shojo manga from time to time. Flower in a Storm was one of the titles that came up almost every time that I was trying to decide which one to read next. So, it was expected that I would pick it up at some point. It also had many other advantages, like an interesting premise and small size (only two volumes). What more could I ask from a light and quick read?

The story of Flower in a Storm wasn't that original. A rich boy came out of the blue and demanded to marry the protagonist. Everything happened so quickly that I was perplexed on how he met her and fell for her. They hadn't met before this incident, there wasn't a family connection, they basically lived in different worlds. Of course, an explanation is offered in the manga, but it wasn't satisfying enough. If there were a better one, the story would have been much more interesting.

The plot then became mostly episodic. In each chapter, something happened, like an assassin attacking Ran or Riko and while the two of them were trying to overcome these dangers they became slightly closer. At least Riko because Ran's feelings were already there. It was so swoon-worthy to watch Riko wonder why she felt so anxious for not seeing Ran! It might not be the first time that I've read a manga with a protagonist with these feelings, but it was certainly well executed.

What troubled me in Flower in a Storm and I couldn't enjoy it as much as I'd like to was the characters and their development. Both Ran and Riko felt more like some sort of archetypes, rather than original characters. Ran was the rich and eccentric kid, who would do anything to show off. Riko, on the other hand, was the one who had always been slightly different from everyone else and that's why she wanted to just be ordinary.

If you read the summary of this manga before this review, then you'd surely expect that Riko had some kind of superpower. Riko was just very athletic, she could run really fast and she could also beat anyone that came in her way. When I was reading Flower in a Storm it didn't bother me at all, but I found it really weird that I was supposed to consider it as something out of the ordinary.

All in all, Flower in a Storm was quite an enjoyable manga, although it was pretty generic. I could predict what was going to happen in the beginning of each chapter and I couldn't really connect with the characters. But, I have to admit that the idea with the clock was amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to read something light and quick.  

So, my advice is...

Get caught up in the storm!


November 23, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 23rd


Hello, everyone! The past week was extremely busy. I'm finally beginning to be more familiar with the city and I like it very much. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The 2015 National Book Awards winners were announced. Among the winners is Adam Johnson for his book Fortune Smiles: Stories and Neal Shusterman for his novel Challenger Deep. Also, the National Book Award lifetime achievement was awarded to Don DeLillo. Moreover, the Costa Book Awards shortlist was revealed earlier this week. Morrissey's book, List of the Lost, has been nominated for an award! To be precise, it's been nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards.


  • Have you heard of The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry? You can now read the fist two chapter, until its upcoming publication on January 26, 2016. Also, you can now see the cover and read an excerpt from Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, which will be published on May 17, 2016. Lastly, you can read an extract from Drew Barrymore's Wildflower, which is now available.


  • Looking for something to watch? There are plenty of interviews and all sort of videos with our favourite authors online. You can watch David Mitchell explain why Darth Vader is interesting while Superman is boring or you can watch Salman Rushdie arguing that ISIS' most dangerous weapon is media. You can also watch a small part of a rare lecture of Kurt Vonnegut on Man-Eating Lampreys. And for all the Lord of the Rings fans there is a 1968 documentary which features an interview with the author, J.R.R. Tolkien.


  • The literary magazine, The Strand, has recently published in its holiday issue a rediscovered play by author William Faulkner. The play is called Twixt Cup and Lip and the author wrote it in his early 20s, probably for a college theatre group.


  • Which Roald Dahl Character Are You? Take the quiz to find out! It turns out that I am Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which one are you?

November 21, 2015

Confession Saturday: Dear Jane Eyre


Hello, everyone! Confession Saturday is a weekly feature, in which we will have the chance to express our feelings towards certain characters. This time of the week we will choose one character and write to him/her about all the things we would like to say. We can explain why we like or dislike each character, which of his/her actions we don't understand and generally whatever comes to mind. 


This week, my letter will be addressed to none other than Jane Eyre, the beloved protagonist of the novel with the same name by Charlotte Bronte. I've always felt a great admiration for Jane, you might even say that she is one of my role models. 


Dear Jane,

I admire you! From the very beginning, you had a difficult life. Nothing was given to you and the way your aunt and cousins treated you was just awful. But you worked hard and you became a woman of her own mind. You never hesitated to speak out your mind and how beautiful it proved to be!

You got mixed in a really complicated situation with Mr. Rochester. You fell in love and you almost reached happiness, but reality hit you and you had to make an important decision. This is one of the things that I try to adopt in my life. You could stay with Mr. Rochester and become his mistress, but instead you chose to leave him, although he begged you to stay. I love the way that you demanded what was right to you. You were certainly hurt, but you followed your beliefs. 

The strength of your mind wasn't born by your status or your riches. You were determined enough to cultivate yourself. And being a woman in that time was difficult. I love how you had the courage to say to your lover and employer the courage to say that you are "a free human with an independent will". I wish I can be more like you in the future.

Yours,
Aeriko 

November 16, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 16th


Hello, everybody! It's been a pretty busy week for me, but I'm very content with the results of my efforts. I've settled down in my new apartment and I've found a job that I'm very interested in. Anyway, as every Monday, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • So, Amazon has released the list of the 100 Best Books of 2015, according to its editors. Number 1 is Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies. Is your favourite book of the year (so far) in the list? Which one would you add?


  • An unpublished short story AND a poem by Charlotte Brontë? Yes, please! The Brontë Society has discovered the manuscripts inside a much-treasured book by Charlotte's mother.

  • You can now see the cover of the upcoming novel of John Corey Whaley, Illogical Behavior, which is stunning! You can also read an exclusive excerpt from the novel, which is due on May 10, 2016.

  • Author Josh Spero has an amazing concept for his upcoming book, Second-Hand Stories. He tracks down the previous owners of books he got at second-hand bookshops. Second-Hand Stories will be released on November 25, 2015 and I can't wait! 

  • Any Quentin Tarantino fan? Well, I've got news for you. The director has collaborated with Playboy and the artist Zach Meyer, in order to create a comic set in the same world of his upcoming film The Hateful Eight. The comic is only 8 pages long and it's supposed to work as a sneak peak of the film. You can read it online, right now!

  • Which Famous Author Should Write Your Biography? Take the quiz to find out! I got Johnathan Safran Foer, which one did you get?

November 15, 2015

Weeckies: During the Dance by Mark Lawrence


Hello, everybody! This week our short story is none other than During the Dance by Mark Lawrence. You can find it and read it for free on Amazon and you can also listen to the audiobook, read by T.O. Munro. It's a short story written on 2004, after the birth of the author's fourth child, which is very disabled. 


During the Dance is a short story about 2000 words long. But, despite its length, it manages to be a very emotional journey. Many of you might be familiar with Mark Lawrence, author of series such as The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War. The writing style is totally different, yet it's still magnificent.                                                                                                                                             The story is about a boy and his little sister, who is able to see other people's auras in the form of tiny people. She is a very energetic girl, one that could make everybody's day and she's constantly talking about the creatures she sees, or dancers as she calls them. She can even predict things that will happen based on what these creatures tell her. But there was only one problem, she can't see her brother's dancer because he doesn't let it out.                                                                                                               
During the Dance is a story about memories, loss and embracing who you are. It's a really quick read, but one I can guarantee that it will linger on your mind for much longer. It can surely touch anyone who happens to read it, so if you have a few minutes give it a chance. It was also great to see another side of Mark Lawrence. 

November 9, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 9th


Hello, everyone! So, I've finally moved to another city and everything is so new to me! I got a cold, though, as soon as I got here. Anyway, last week The Reading Armchair officially got a Facebook page, so you can like it. In the meantime, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • So, this week a lot of prizes were announced. First of all, Kerry Hudson has won the French Prix Femina for translated fiction, for her second novel Thirst. Also, Jacqueline Wilson was awarded the JM Barrie award for a lifetime of unforgettable writing for children. The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2015 was given to Steve Silberman for his book Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and how to Think Smarter About People who Think Differently. Another French Award, the Prix Goncourt, was given to Matthias Énard for his novel Zone. Roxane Gay won the PEN freedom to write award. Lastly, the 2015 World Fantasy Awards were announced. Among the winners is David Mitchell for his novel The Bone Clocks.  

  • Read an excerpt from Tommy Wallach's upcoming novel Thanks for the Trouble. The novel is due on February 23, 2016. You can also read an excerpt from Supernova the new novel by C.A. Higgins. Supernova will be a prequel to Lightless and it will be published on July 26, 2016.

  • There is a Harry Potter colouring book and it's completely amazing! Just take a look! It's been published tomorrow, so grab your pens everybody!

  • The word of the year 2015, according to Collin's dictionary is binge-watch, which is essentially defined as "to watch a large number of television programs in succession". I bet we all know the meaning of this word (especially when it comes to anime, for me).

  • I think I've found the next destination I want to travel to! Where? Tokyo, Japan. Conveniently, this amazing hostel opens this month and I'm impressed. What a wonderful environment!


  • Eoin Colfer has made a deal with Marvel to write a new Iron Man novel. The young adult novel is due on the autumn of 2016.

  • Amazon has opened its first actual bookstore. It's located in Seattle, Washington. The prices of the books will be the same as they can be found online and also customers will be able to try out products like Amazon Kindle etc.

  • Remember a while back that I shared with a link for a vending machine which would give random used books? Well, it turns out that there is another vending machine, but in this one you can get short stories. Why isn't something like that here?

  • Which Fictional City Should You Live In? Take the quiz to find out! I got Pawnee, Indiana. Which one did you get?  

November 6, 2015

Review: Assassin's Creed: Renaissance


Title: Assassin's Creed: Renaissance

Author: Oliver Bowden

Publisher: Ace

Date of Publication: 2009

Number of Pages: 516

Find it at: Book Depository


Summary

Betrayed by the ruling families of Italy, a young man embarks upon an epic quest for vengeance. To eradicate corruption and restore his family's honour, he will learn the art of the assassins. To his allies, Ezio will become a force for change, fighting for freedom and justice. To his enemies, he will become a threat.

Review

Even if you're not a gamer, the chances are that you've heard of Assassin's Creed before. Ubisoft is releasing a new installment of the game every year. I have played some of the games before and what impressed me the most was the story. So, when I heard that a series of novels was coming out I was excited and I anticipated books heavy on historical elements. I was also curious to see how all of the unique aspects of the gameplay would fit into the plot. Lastly, from which game would the novels begin? As it turns out, the starting point is Assassin's Creed II and the story of one of the most popular assassins of the series, Ezio Auditore.

Ezio is a man who has lost everything. His father and brothers are accused and executed falsely by the ruling families in Florence. In order to remain alive and save his mother and sister, he flees his hometown and ends up in his uncle Mario's palazzo. There he learns that he has a heavy heritage to live up to. Is he ready to accept it, though? He decided to cooperate with the Order of the Assassins because they are after the same men he seeks revenge from. As he dives deeper and one mission leads to another, he discovers the truth behind the ruling games and the fight between the Assassins and the Templars. Moreover, his list for the people he has to go after in order to restore his father's name is filled constantly with even more powerful names, with the peak being Rodrigo Borgia.

So, to sum things up, take a hero with a powerful motive, add a family heritage, a lot of historical figures and facts, sprinkle a lot of action and you're done! Seems like a recipe for success, right? Well, that's where all the problems begin. It's the first time that I've encountered a story with so much potential not being taken advantage of, at all.

First of all, I couldn't care for a single character in the whole novel! Yes, we follow Ezio in his journey and he is in danger at times, but I couldn't feel fear for him. Although we have his backstory and his motives explained, I never figured out the character traits that make Ezio who he is. His thoughts and feelings are somewhat generic and things that you'd expect to hear from a person with these experiences. As for the secondary characters, well, they weren't developed at all, so I can't really say anything about them.

The other big problem of this novel is that the story doesn't have continuity, at least one that feels natural. While reading Assassin's Creed, I was constantly under the impression that the author wrote it while he was playing the game and he was just writing it down at the same time. To make things clear, imagine Ezio on a mission. He goes where he has to go, accomplishes with some way or another the assassination and then he meets someone that tells him who he needs to kill next. The first time it didn't bother me, but it happened all the time. Shouldn't Ezio at least question his missions? We are in a totally different medium, so things have to be explained.

This brings us to the last problem. The elements of the game, such as the wall-climbing, the leap of faith and the looting feel unnatural. They are there just because they are essential elements in the game. They are recognizable and if they weren't there I would certainly feel their loss, but I expected them to be included in a way that it didn't shout "Hey, here goes the famous leap of faith! Don't miss it!". In some instances, I even expected a NEW SKILL UNLOCKED to pop up.  

Assassin's Creed was a major disappointment for me. I like historical novels and the action of this one promised to be an enjoyable read. But instead it fell flat, without a memorable hero and a world poorly constructed. At least it made me want to play Brotherhood, the next game in the series. And if you want to get acquainted with Ezio Auditore, then don't hesitate to pick up Assassin's Creed II. This is a clear victory for the video games format.




November 5, 2015

Join The Reading Armchair on Facebook!


Hello, everybody! This is exciting news! The Reading Armchair is now on Facebook. You can visit and like the page at The Reading Armchair. I'm really happy that the blog is expanding little by little and I hope for more exciting news in the future :)

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