May 31, 2016

Play(list) by the Book: Summer Days & Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins



Hello, everyone! What a better way to welcome summer than listening to the Play(list) by the Book of the short story collection edited by Stephanie Perkins, Summer Days & Summer Nights! Plus, I always have so much fun compiling and listening to all those literary playlists. So, turn up your volume and enjoy!





As usual, I've included all the songs and artists mentioned in the short stories. Some of them didn't mention even one, others featured many. This playlist turned out to be more punk than I expected. When only an artist was named I chose the song thay I liked the most. The same applied to the case where only the album was mentioned. In the short story Inertia by Veronica Roth a band called Chase Wolcott plays an important role, and especially their song with the same title as the story. Also, another song is mentiones called Traditional Panic. I couldn't find anything about this band, so I figured that it was a fictional one. In case you know that this is a real music group, please let me know, for I'd like to listen to their songs!


Find previous Play(list) by the Book here.

May 30, 2016

The Reading Book Post, May 30th


Hello, everyone! Summer has arrived and I'm trying to compile my summer reading list. There are a couple of books of my favourite authors coming out and some others that I've wanted to read for a while. If you have any suggestions for me, please let me know! Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The V&A Illustration Award 2016 was given to Kate Milner for her picture book My Name is Not Refugee. In this picture book the creator aims to show children what is the refugee crisis.


  • One of the first novel to be published in summer that I expect is definitely Stephen King's End of Watch. You can read an excerpt from it before its publication on June 7.


  • Which is the first science fiction story? Could it be one of Edgar Allan Poe's, or one of Mary Shelley's? Well, the genre might have appeared even earlier than we thought, as the 1616 The Chemical Wedding is considered the first science fiction story.


  • Any fans of the Mortal Instruments series? It seems that Cassandra Clare will publish an adult trilogy about the character we all know (and love) Magnus Bane! But we'll have to wait until November 2017 for the release of the first instalment.


  • You all know by now my love for David Mitchell. The author has delivered his manuscript for the Future Library Project, which will be released on 2114. The only thing we know, and we'll ever learn is the it's called From Me Flows What You Call Time


  • Which Literary Creep Is Your Alter Ego? Take the quiz to find out! It turns out that my alter ego is none other than Cathy Ames from the novel East of Eden. Which one is yours?

May 27, 2016

Review: Luna the Vampire, Volume 1: Grumpy Space, by Yasmin Sheikh

Title: Luna the Vampire, Volume 1: Grumpy Space

Author: Yasmin Sheikh

Publisher: Idea & Design Works

Expected Date of Publication: July 12th, 2016

Number of Pages: 80

Find it at : Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Summary


Ever wondered how it would be if outer space was populated by monsters? LOOK NO FURTHER! As this is the AMAZING everyday life of Luna the Vampire. Jam packed with awesome adventures, crazy faces, zombie postmen, AND SPACE. By the power of the giant floating god heads, don't miss out!


Review


Luna the Vampire is a quick and fun read. The cartoony art style and the everyday life short stories make this comic so easy to read.

Luna is a vampire that lives in space. This alone is a refreshing view, as I'm used to darker versions of these creatures. Along with Luna space is filled with all kinds of creatures, such as witches and zombies. Even the young vampire's pet is a fat worm, rather than a dog or a cat.

This comic consists of a series of short stories of Luna's everyday life. They don't have a connection, each story can work fine on its own without any context. This means, on the one hand, that we never really get to learn our protagonist really well, and, on the other hand, that Luna becomes really relateable, escpecially to the female readers. She worries about being fat and the way that her body looks, she even freaks out that she doesn't have anything to wear. All of these, are things that we all have felt and this makes it even funnier.

All in all, Luna the Vampire  is a quirky and light read. It doesn't offer anything much, apart from killing a boring afternoon. Another problem is that it's not memorable, funny for reading the first volume but not expecting a second one. I'm not sure what the target audience of this comic really is. I wouldn't consider it for younger readers, but adolescents would surely find it enjoyable.

    

May 23, 2016

The Reading Book Post, May 23rd


Hello, everyone! The end of spring is slowly approaching, but it doesn't feel like the beginning of summer yet. I can't wait for those long summer days on the beach, enjoying an iced coffee and reading amazing books. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The Man Book Prize International 2016 was given to the South Korean author Han Kang for her novel The Vegeterian, as well as the translator of the book Deborah Smith. For yet another year there were no grand prize winners for the 7th Kyoto Animation Awards. There were only three judge special awards in the novel category.


  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away in 2014. Last week his ashes laid to rest in Cartagena. This Colombian city was important to the much-beloved author, as it was the place where he had begun his writing career.

  • The Da Vinci Code is one of the books that we've all heard of (and many of us has read it). Now, younger audiences will get the chance to read it, as Dan Brown will be releasing a YA version of his best-selling novel. The adaptation is due on September 13, 2016. 




  • Which are the most common words used in poetry? Discover which words some of our favourite poets used, like Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman. I was particularly interesting in finding out which words Edgar Allan Poe used.


  • Are you addicted to colouring books? Then you might want to make your hobby more interesting with this 17th century adult colouring book that will be republished. It was first published in 1612 and 1622, in order to accompany Michael Drayton's 15,000-line poem, called Poly-Olbion. 


  • Classic Rock Lyrics Or Classic Literature? Test your knowledge with this quiz! How did you do?

May 18, 2016

Review: I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After, by Skottie Young

Title: I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After

Author: Skottie Young

Colouring: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Lettering: Nate Piekos

Publisher: Image Comics

Date of Publication: April 26th, 2016

Number of Pages: 128

Find it at : Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

From superstar writer and artist Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon, Wizard of OZ, Fortunately, The Milk), comes the first volume of an all-new series of adventure and mayhem. An Adventure Time/Alice in Wonderland-style epic that smashes it's cute little face against grown-up, Tank Girl/Deadpool-esque violent madness. Follow Gert, a forty year old woman stuck in a six year olds body who has been stuck in the magical world of Fairyland for nearly thirty years. Join her and her giant battle-axe on a delightfully blood soaked journey to see who will survive the girl who HATES FAIRYLAND. Collecting Issues #1-5.

Review

I Hate Fairyland had definitely one of the most eye grabbing titles I'd come across in a comic book for a while. Indeed, this was the first thing that made me pick it up, and especially the name of the first volume, Madly Ever After. It had something fairytale-ish that I couldn't really resist, despite the unsettling imagery of the cover.

The story at first had something really familiar, like the beginning you'd expect out of a children's book. A young girl, Gertrude, wished to be in Fairyland and suddenly she was sucked into this world where everything was so pink and full of candies. The queen of fairyland gave Gert a quest, to find the key that would open the door that led back to her old life, as well as the minion Larrigon Wentswarth III. And this was the point that everything went wrong. Twenty-seven years had passed and Gert was still wandering in Fairyland desperate to find the key. Although she was a grown woman, she still looked like the little girl that entered the magical kingdom. Along with Gert's mind her temper grew as well, making her a huge problem for the queen. Maybe this was how Alice would end up, if she remained in Wonderland.

Gertrude's temper was the real protagonist in this comic book. She yelled and killed anyone who would get in her way. She even shot the moon because he was narrating her story. Her temper was also what made the story move forward, as the queen couldn't take it anymore. But Gert was resourceful and always managed to survive, with her unpredictable ideas. Furthermore, this exact temper was what made this graphic novel so hilarious!

A big plus of I Hate Fairyland was that it spoke to the inner geek in me! When I first encountered this creature I was screaming "This is Jabba". When a little while later Gert was trying to choke him with her chain I was screaming "This is definitely Jabba". And it became even more entertaining when Gert herself aknowledged it as a Jabba Choke. For a Star Wars fan like myself, this was an amazing nod to the franchise.

The art style of I Hate Fairyland was throughout the comic book like the one in the cover. Gert was violent and so blood was one of the most common sights. A great example was when Gertrude slaughtered a whole village of zombies. But the contrast was great with all the cute images of the background and the pastel colours.

A thing that I didn't quite understand, but was equally funny was the way Gertrude used profanities. All of the words were changed with others, not vulgar at all like son of a biscuit, fudge, hug, but in one instance Gert called some guards dickheads. It didn't really bother me, but it would be funnier if it was replaced with another word.

All in all, i loved I Hate Fairyland. It was an entertaining comic and I would really like to read more of Gertrude's adventures. The ending definitely left me pumped up for the second volume. But Madly Ever After was best described by the queen of Fairyland: Fairyland may be the happiest place on earth for dumb, snot-nose brats, but it's also filled with the blackest of dark-hearted evils. A comic book not to be missed!  

May 16, 2016

The Reading Book Post, May 16th


Hello, everyone! Another week has come, and so it's time for another Reading Book Post. Let's take a look at what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The 2015 Nebula Award winners were announced some days ago. It's interesting that this year's awards were dominated by female writers. Moreover, the British Book Industry Awards became public. The big winner was Andrew Michael Hurley, for his novel The Loney, that was named Book of the Year and Debut Fiction Book of the Year. Finally, the Dylan Thomas Prize was awarded to Max Porter, for his debut book Grief is the Thing with Feathers.   

  • There were some sad news for the literary world the previous week. The author of Geek Love, Katherine Dunne, passed away at the age of 70. Also, the creator Darwyn Cooke passed away a couple of days ago. 

  • It's Roald Dahl's 100th birthday. In order to celebrate this anniversary Puffin will be releasing brand new covers of all of our favourite books he wrote. 

  • Are you among the ones that can't wait for the release of The Winds of Winter? Well, until we finally learn the publication date, you can read a chapter from the next instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire that George R. R. Martin gave to the public. 

  • World of Warcraft is a very popular game. Cooking in it is really big and so a new World of Warcraft cookbook, will be published this October. All the hardcore fans of the game can now try all the recipes that they are creating in the game!

  • William Faulkner is one the great classic writers. But he had another talent. drawing. You can see some of his impressive drawings, which were published between 1919 and 1921.

  • Who's Your Book Boy BFF? Take the quiz to find out! I got Tiberias "Cal" Calore VII from Red Queen. Which one did you get?

May 10, 2016

Infographic - 20 Phrases You Might Not Know that Were Found in Books

Hello, everyone! Today's infogram features 20 quite common phrases, as well as the piece of literature (or generally book) that were first found. I have to admit that some of their origins came as a surprise to me. I also tried not to include more than one phrase that originated from William Shakespeare's plays, which turned out to be a challenging decision. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite phrase?


May 9, 2016

The Reading Book Post, May 9th


Hello, everyone! I'm still back in my hometown, enjoying some more days of rest. Meanwhile, the spring weather is so great that I only want to spend my time outdoors. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The shortlist for the Desmond Elliot Prize 2016 has been announced. The three books that claim the prize are The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester, and Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea. The winner will be announced on June 22, 2016. Also, the shortlist for the RSL Ondaatje Prize has been revealed. The winner will become known on May 23, 2016. The winners for The Best Translated Book Awards are Yuri Herrara's Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman, for fiction, and Angélica Freitas' Rilke Shake, translated by Hilary Kaplan, or poetry. The V&A Illustration Awards 2016 shortlist has been revealed. We might not judge a book by its cover, but these illustrations are just beautiful! The winners will become public on May 23, 2016.

  • Hercules Poirot is ready to return in our libraries! You can now read an excerpt from Sophie Hannah's Closed Casket, which will be published on September 6, 2016. I can't wait! 


  • Are you as excited as I am about Amy Schumer's book? Well, now you can see its cover, until we can all read it on August 16, 2016. The book is called The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

  • The Bodleian  Libraries have recently acquired a map of Middle Earth, anotated by the author himself. The map was created by the artist Pauline Baynes.

  • Season 6 of Game of Thrones has finally arrived, and already there are so many things going on! Since a certain character has recently come back to life, here is a list of characters that still live on the book series, A Song of Fire and Ice, but not in the TV series.

  • Which American Women's Writer Character Are You? Take the quiz to find out! I got Edna Pontellier from the novel The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, what did you get?

May 5, 2016

Review: Golem, by Lorenzo Ceccotti


Title: Golem

Author: Lorenzo Ceccotti

Publisher: Magnetic Press

Expected Date of Publication: July 12th, 2016

Number of Pages: 280

Find it at : Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

Set in a future, post-Eurozone Italy, entrenched in a culture of hypercapitalism, Golem follows young Steno Critone as he is kidnapped during a political protest gone sour. Taken in by the band of labeled “terrorists”, he learns that things are not as they seem in society, and that he has the power to not only change the city but reality itself.

Review

So, this is another graphic novel with a gorgeously illustrated cover that I couldn't resist on reading. Plus, I don't usually get the chance to read comics from Italy and I was really curious to see what Golem was all about. I mean, stories about post-apocalyptic societies work perfectly in this format! But, in this case, I'm at a loss for words, as my feelings towards this graphic novel are mixed.

The plot of Golem was typical of a post-apocalyptic scenario. It had every important element of such story: an all-knowing government, a rebellious team living on the outskirts of the city and a young boy that possesses the key to a powerful technology. Steno, our young protagonist, had trouble sleeping and that was why he had dark circles under his eyes. This was his most distinctive feature. He was witness to an attack by the rebels and they took him in their hideout. And then everything got complicated. Steno's father was a scientist on the verge of a scientific breakthrough and because he refused to let it be used for military purposes he was murdered by the government. But before dying he had planted this technology on his son. It was a story with great potential, but ultimately it left many things unanswered. Towards the end, things kept happening without a clear reason. How the technology was awakened from Steno is still a mystery to me.

An interesting aspect of Golem that I really want to underline is the fact that the rebels terrorized the society by writing things about the government on the walls. They had created some sort of family and they seemed happier than all of the people that lived in the futuristic society.

As I've already stated, the cover was a significant reason for me to pick up this graphic novel. And from the first pages that I read, I was genuinely impressed. But as I was progressing the story, I found out that the illustrations were suffering. So, on the one hand, there were pages so beautiful that I would want them as posters on my walls, and on the other hand, there were pages that the art was somewhat generic and poorly made. It was a shame, though, because the main plot was under the shadow of Steno's nightmares because I only wanted to look at the latter.

Golem was a graphic novel with great potential. The story had ideas that would guarantee an intriguing plot with plenty room for thought. Also, the talent of the creator was evident, as the nightmares were more than gorgeously illustrated. I only wish that the execution would be better, both storywise and in the illustration. I would recommend it with caution because it was interesting enough, but with a lot of problems.  

May 1, 2016

Review: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner


Title: As I Lay Dying

Author: William Faulkner

Publisher: Vintage Books

Date of Publication: 1991 (first published in 1930)

Number of Pages: 267

Find it at : Book Depository

Summary

As I Lay Dying is Faulkner's harrowing account of the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told in turns by each of the family members— including Addie herself — the novel ranges in mood from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.

Review

As I Lay Dying was the novel that I had to read for the Classics Club Spin #12. I was happy that I would finally read it, as it's one of the books that had been lying on my bookshelf for quite some time. Chance had it that today, that I'm writing this review, is the Easter day in Greece and considering the tone and theme of the novel, I can't imagine a more suitable day for doing so.

Addie Bundren had wished to be buried in her hometown, Jefferson. So, after her passing away, the Bundren family set on a journey in order to grant her final wish. But this journey seemed impossible, as all kinds of problem appear for the family members. The graver ones, in particular, were caused by themselves. And this was the plot, more or less.

What was more prominent in As I Lay Dying was its writing style. Stream of consciousness and the multiple points of view were what characterized this novel. But these two elements were the ones that made it almost unbearable to me. More than once I was confused by the constant babbling of the thoughts of the characters and in some cases, I was never able to figure out if what I was reading was a real or an imaginary event. Nevertheless, having fifteen different points of view made it easier to get a glimpse of the whole picture and not just the perception of one narrator. It was interesting to read the thoughts of so many and be able to distinguish their different ways of interpreting the same events. On the other hand, some narrators, such as Vardaman, were so difficult to follow that confused me even more. For me, it was easier to follow the train of thought of Darl.

None of the characters was even the least likable, but it was evident that they were never meant to be. Anse, the father of the family, was lazy and selfish. He disrespected his late wife in more than one ways, from placing her in her coffin the wrong way and letting her rot before being buried, to finding a new wife literally two minutes after she was put in the ground. What was really bothering was the fact that there wasn't the bonding that ought to be in a family in a hard time such as this one. Darl hated Jewel, and Dewey Dell hated Darl. Anse took advantage of all of his children and especially Cash, who was traveling with his leg broken. Even Addie had a very questionable character. In her chapter, she let us know that she hated her children and only Jewel was her salvation, the only child that wasn't fathered by Anse. Lastly, although there were indications that Darl was indeed crazy, I never understood whether it was necessary for him to be taken to a mental institute.

The 1920's wasn't the best time for a woman to live. But women in As I Lay Dying were more miserable than I could ever imagine. Their sole purpose was to bear children. They were treated like tools, rather than people. Dewey Dell had an unwanted pregnancy, but she wasn't able to get any abortion medication. On the contrary, she was taken advantage of.

All in all, I can understand why As I Lay Dying is considered a great novel, but it wasn't my cup of tea. I had a hard time finishing it as I found it tiring and confusing. I liked that it was filled with irony, but most of the time it was distressing. I don't know if this was the best novel to introduce me to Faulkner's work and I don't know if I'll be easily inclined to read something else written by this author.


This counts as a novel written by a Nobel Prize recipient for the 2016 Reading Challenge
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