Ghost World – Daniel Clowes

Title: Ghost World220px-ghost_world
Author: Daniel Clowes
Genre: Comic
Pages: 80
Category: 17. Read a book that was turned into a movie
Format: Paper

Okay, this is also a cult classic and was almost the movie I picked except I wanted to check out the comic first. So here we are. Comics are definitely not my favourite way to read but I do like to check one out every so often. I figured sneaking one in this year would plenty, especially since the book I picked up included the entire series as well as comments from Daniel Clowes.

Anyway, this comic so perfectly sums up what it’s like to finish high school and not really know what you’re going to do with your life. Particularly that first summer when you’ve just finished up with exams and you’re just kind of bumbling around town probably drinking and sleeping in. I spent most of my first summer out of school working in one of those shitty fast food jobs but I also had plenty of time to laze about and contemplate life. I think the experiences of these guys are pretty common. That person you were so close to in high school, you slowly have less and less in common with the, until you realise that you don’t really want to hang out with them anymore.

I had a bit of an issue with Enid to be honest because she just came across as so manipulative of Rebecca. She spends an awful lot of time particularly in the early comics deciding with she and Rebecca will do with their days. Honestly, if she was my friend I don’t know that I would want to hang out with her either.

This isn’t an uplifting read or anything like that and it leaves you feeling just a little bit melancholy when you’re done but if you haven’t checked it out it’s a pretty cool comic.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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Florence Foster Jenkins

Title: Florence Foster Jenkinsmv5bmja0mzc4mjmxml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodiwntqxode-_v1_uy1200_cr9506301200_al_
Year: 2016
Director: Stephen Frears
Genre: Historical
Category: #27 A film starring Meryl Streep

Okay, so I’ve watched a lot of Meryl Streep but this is one I hadn’t bothered to check out because I didn’t love the idea of it very much. But it was quite funny in places and very well put together. It’s the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins who was known for her truly terrible singing abilities.

Florence has an unusual relationship with her husband (played by Hugh Grant) and also quite a lot of money. We get to see her succeeding in her singing career despite not being able to sing at all.

Honestly, I would’ve been much happier rewatching Mamma Mia or the Devil Wears Prada but I decided to pick new movies for all of my choices so here we are. Meryl Streep is someone who often stars in hilarious movies like Mamma Mia but just as often appears playing real people such as Julia Childs. Much like Julia this movie is well worth a watch but probably won’t make it to my top five Meryl Streep movies.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Baywatch (2017)

Title: Baywatchbaywatch_poster
Year: 2017
Director: Seth Gordon
Genre: Action
Category: #36 A movie with a rotten tomato score of less than 20%

I didn’t need to watch this movie to know that it would be some combination of awful and ridiculous and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you either. But it was.

This one follows on from the original TV show but now it’s The Rock who runs the beach. Welcome Zac Efron who’s an Olympic swimmer with a bad reputation and a sense of entitlement. Cue drugs showing up on the beach and the Baywatch folks getting caught up in a mystery that really should be left to the cops. Add in a healthy dose of character growth and a lot of gratuitous shots of male and female bodies in swimsuits and you’ve got Baywatch.

Honestly though, it had a pretty coherent plot which is more than I can say for a bunch of things I’ve seen this year so it gets some points for that and the acting was okay. The plot was certainly a bit predictable in places and there was nothing particularly amazing about it. But honestly, if all you want from your movie is a distraction from your real life and some pretty men/women to look at then this is a great choice.

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Title: Million Dollar Babymv5bmtkxnza1ndqxov5bml5banbnxkftztcwntkymtizmw-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_
Year: 2004
Director: Clint Eastwood
Genre: Action/Sport
Category: #4 A film about sport

Okay, I know, where was I when this came out? Who knows, I definitely heard about it, I’m not sure why I never watched it, but here we are. Honestly, the first half of this movie is exactly what I was expecting, the second half not so much. I won’t spoil why, but if you’ve seen it I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re looking for something funny, this isn’t the one for you. This is definitely more drama than laughs. Definitely more Remember the Titans than Bend it Like Beckham.

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Zookeeper’s Wife – Diane Ackerman

Title: The Zookeeper’s Wife51qkbrj3cdl-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Author: Diane Ackerman
Genre: History
Pages: 368
Category: 42. Read a book that features animals
Format: Paper

So this one is based on a true story, set during World War II in Poland. It’s a pretty sad story but also incredibly interesting.

This was also made into a movie this year which is why it was on my list oddly enough. I was tossing up between this and A Dog’s Purpose but it received a lot of bad press regarding the treatment of animals so I picked this instead.

Honestly though, the hardest part reading this was the treatment of the animals during the war. This isn’t something I had put a lot of thought into prior to reading this book but it’s such a horrible thing to read about. Animals either dying or getting out of their enclosures and then being shot during a bombing.

It’s definitely a book that is worth reading and I’ll be checking out the movie when I have a chance too

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Three – Sarah Lotz

Title: The Three19880173
Author: Sarah Lotz
Genre: Mystery/Horror
Pages: 471
Category: 33. Read a book from the horror genre
Format: Paper

Date Started: September 15th 2017
Date Finished: September 17th 2017

I started this book at the airport right before getting on a three hour flight. Which is obviously a great idea. tarting a book about a plane crash right before flying. It’s become kind of a tradition though, last flight it was Departure by A G Riddle (great book by the way).

At any rate, 4 planes crash almost simultaneously in completely different parts of the world. There’s a single survivor from 3 of the crashes and none from the fourth, all 3 survivors are children and all 3 start acting weirdly once they get home. A pastor in America believes that there is a fourth child who survived the other crash and that together the 4 children are the horsemen of the apocalypse.

This is one of the stranger books I’ve read and has lead me to a new conclusion that plane crash books are largely incredibly strange. Honestly, I enjoyed the book but… really, not a lot actually happened which is surprising for such a long book and I was left feeling a little like maybe this wasn’t the horror book I was expecting. At least, right until the very end.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go71rpwxqqd3l
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 288
Category: 43. Read a book where the main character goes on a journey
Format: Paper

Date Started: June 29th 2017
Date Finished: July 5th 2017

It’s possible I would’ve have picked this up if it weren’t for this challenge. Okay, I wouldn’t have. But like so many other books that I’ve picked up because of this challenge, I actually ended up liking it.

The book switches between the past and the present intertwined. The past explores Cathy’s experiences at a boarding school which seems to be located somewhere in the British countryside. The present explores Cathy’s job as a carer where she occasionally comes into contact with people she went to school with.

Right off the bat though, the boarding school seems a little weird and not quite right. First off each student cultivates their own collections which they are able to purchase from sales at the school that happen quarterly. They don’t use money though, they use tokens which they receive in exchange for their art with better art getting more tokens. In turn, the art is sold at the quarterly sales in addition to items brought in from outside the school like clothes.

There’s also this constant mention of donations which is threaded through both the past and present stories, though it’s easy to make guesses what this means since Cathy is a carer for those who have made donations. She travels between care facilities working with her clients. Of course, after she’s finished been a carer she will make her own donations.

This book has the same feel as the Handmaid’s Tale for me, even though this society is a little more rooted in our current reality than the Handmaid’s Tale is. But, I think it’s safe to say that if you were a fan of the Handmaid’s Tale then you should give this a try.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Title: Lord of the Flieslordofthefliesbookcover
Author: William Golding
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 248
Category: 15. Read a popular book, with at least 1 million ratings on any one website
Format: Paper

Date Started: May 30th 2017
Date Finished: June 4th 2017

Okay, so I’m a couple of months behind on these posts. So expect a lot coming in the next couple of weeks. Starting with this classic. This one had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time after I bought it from a second hand bookshop many years ago.

I definitely have some problems with this book, largely with the portrayal of Piggy. When Piggy is first introduced it is with a description of an overweight child who nobody respects despite the fact that he certainly has the most reasoned ideas of anyone on the island. In addition to being fat Piggy has asthma and has trouble keeping up with the other kids when it comes to collecting firewood and hunting etc. He is basically portrayed as completely useless because of his weight and medical condition. Oh and of course, he can’t see anything without his glasses. So he’s 3 for 3. This seems like lazy storytelling to me, to make a character who is slightly larger than the rest of the kids, and who has a medical condition and to stereotype them as the weakest link. Of course, this book is a product of it’s time so this discrimination isn’t overly surprising. Of course, most people wouldn’t be surprised by it today either which is sad.

Okay, so despite my issues with the book I actually did enjoy it. While I’m sure that if I had read it at school for English, then I would have hated it. Perhaps, simply being able to read the book without being forced to examine every aspect of it is a gift, particularly with this novel which despite it’s relatively short length is surprisingly complex.

For anyone who hasn’t read it, I will not spoil the ending, although, I was somewhat surprised by it, but that’s a different story.

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman

Title: The Invisible Library the-invisible-library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Pages: 329
Category: 21. Read a short book, one between 5,000 and 100,000 words
Format: Paper

Date Started: April 1st 2017
Date Finished: April 14th 2017

In keeping with the theme of the year so far this book also had a huge focus on the importance of words with the librarians having a language all of their own that was able to impact the world. Throughout the book this was frequently used to open locked doors or animate an object. In the lore of this series objects are easier to influence if you are asking them to do something that is natural for them such as opening a lock or animating a stuffed animal (in this case the animal was once alive and therefore movement is the natural state. This use of language is distinct from anything else I’ve read and kind of quirky which I like.

The plot follows a librarian and her apprentice who are seeking a book from an alternate reality which is supposed to be quite important to the (invisible) library for reasons unknown to the main characters. Of course, the book is not where it is supposed to be and of course there are some politics that get in the way from both the library and the alternate world.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It was an interesting premise, though there was quite a lot going on with a lot of different lore mixed in together making it seem like a bit of a hodge podge rather than a cohesive lore.

This is the first book in the series and I liked it enough that I plan to read at least the next book in the series even if it will probably never make it to my top 10 (I was kind of hoping it would with such a great premise for it).

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Sound of Seas – Gillian Anderson

Title: The Sound of Seasthe-sound-of-seas-9781471137785_hr
Author: Gillian Anderson
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 277
Category: 18. Finish a series
Format: Paper

Date Started: February 27th 2017
Date Finished: March 5th 2017

The final instalment in this series, started right at the beginning of the year. This third book in the trilogy somewhat diverges from what I’m accustomed to for a trilogy but it does work for it. If you’re looking at this and haven’t read any of the books then stop right here and go back to the first review and decide if it’s something for you.

Picking up right where the previous book left off we are thrown right into the Galderkhaan lifestyle. Yet another new side of Galderkhaan that we haven’t seen before, this time focussing on fishing and the use of the airships. We see a return of Madame Langlois from the first book as well.

Although the majority of the questions I had were answered in this book, there are still things I would’ve liked to see more of. Unfortunately, the many intertwining stories make it quite difficult to devote all that much time to any one of the stories which is both interesting and limiting.

Regardless, I found the series an interesting read and I don’t think it’s quite like anything I’ve read before this and it did open my eyes to how many different cultures and customs could be incorporated into one belief system that is still based primarily on science. I think the quote at the top from a different Gillian Anderson work sums that up perfectly: Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it.

Rating: 3/5 stars