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

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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

Ghostbusters (2016)

Title: Ghostbustersghostbusters-1
Year: 2016
Director: Paul Feig
Genre: Science Fiction/Action
Date Watched: February 24, 2017
Category: A remake

I’ll be honest… I saw the original Ghostbusters once… and it didn’t really make an impression on me. However, I do like Melissa McCarthy so I was all for seeing this one. Plus, a remake with a gender swapped cast? That sounded amazing.

I can’t comment on how true to the original film this is but I can say I enjoyed it. The characters were great, 4 women all with very strong personalities and the dopiest male receptionist known to man? Amazing. The 4 ghostbusters are Erin (the serious one), Abby (the believer), Holtzmann (the inventor) and Patty (the street-smart one). As much as a I loved the other characters it was Holtzmann who stole the show for me. Untraditional in all the best ways and always getting into trouble somehow. The film even included various cameos from Bill Murray to Sigourney Weaver for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

The storyline itself was fairly simplistic but interesting to watch just the same and the special effects were obviously an update on those in the original films.

I can’t see myself watching this one again and it’s not going to make it on to my favourites list anytime soon but I really did enjoy the it and if they were to do a second film focussing on Holtzmann I would be right there to see it.

Rating: 3/5

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)51adtbfedzl-_sx324_bo1204203200_
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 485
Category: 48. Read the first book in a series
Format: Paper

Date Started: January 28th 2017
Date Finished: January 29th 2017

This one’s been on my to-read list for a while, I’ve thought about it and looked at it so many times, each time thinking it would be another case of a book that everyone else thought was cool and I hated. For a change I was wrong. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite book in the world, or that it changed my life, but it was a nice easy book to read and it kept my attention.

City of Bones follows the life of teenager Clary Frey when things start going a little bit strangely in her life. First she sees a girl in a club being followed by a guy, then she finds out she can see things nobody else can see. Of course, she happens to be able to see a particularly interesting boy who nobody else can see and it just gets weirder for Clary from there. Her mum isn’t who she says she is, but of course Clary can’t ask her about it because her mother has disappeared leaving a demon in their house which attacks Clary.

Okay, this is probably not the book for you if you’re into great literature, but if you’re looking for a nice easy read with some vampires, demons, warlocks and other paranormal and fantasy creatures then pick this one up. I’ll definitely be picking up the other books in the series.

Rating: 3/5

 

A Collection of Short Films

Okay, this post is just a little different. Instead of just one short I ended up watching 5, so they’re all here.

Title: Quadrangle612706385
Year: 2010
Director: Amy Grappell
Genre: Sexuality, History
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one was an interesting watch for me as someone who is fascinated by sexuality and alternate lifestyle choices. Quadrangle is the story of two couples in the 1970’s who swapped partners for many years. The couples had children of their own and became close through a sailing club often drinking and smoking pot together with both couples experiencing relationship issues. There is a coldness about the film that made it a little uncomfortable to watch, perhaps because it was narrated by the daughter of two being interviewed. It does bring up fascinating questions about what it means to be a family and ultimately how we choose to love and live.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars


 

Title: Supporting Film maxresdefault
Year: 2015
Director: Douwe Dijkstra
Genre: Documentray
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one is a film about film. It’s not very long and is sometimes a little hard to follow but it does offer many different perspectives of film from people who experience film in different ways, such as those who are hearing or vision impaired. Ultimately it is a lovely exploration of something we all know and love: film.

Rating: 2 stars


 

Title: It’s a Date606490254
Year: 2016
Director: Zachar Zazima
Genre: Romance
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one was shown originally at Sundance and was quite short. Honestly though, it was just not the film for me. Nothing about what was happening made much sense, the animation was not a style I enjoy either. There is nothing I liked about this film at all.

Rating: 0.5/5 stars


 

Title: 9 Daysschermafbeelding-2016-06-07-om-14-29-45-2-1280x800
Year: 2012
Director: Issa Touma
Genre: War, Documentary
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This film explores one man’s experience over the course of 9 days as the crisis in Syria began in 2012. This is one of the few films made by a Syrian about the Syrian civil war. While I would certainly recommend reading at least a little about the state of affairs in Syria before watching this film it is still one of the true portrayals of the experiences of Syrians. In the time since the civil war started almost half of the pre war population of Syria has been killed, with many more fleeing for their lives to countries that have been less than supportive of their plight.

Rating: 3/5 stars


 

Title: Last Letterslastletters
Year: 2016
Director: Nils Clauss
Genre: Documentary
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

Of the films I watched this one touched me the most, even though it was one of the shortest. The film consists of interviews with some of the family members of those lost in the sinking of the Sewol Ferry on April 16 2014 off the coast of South Korea. Many of those who died were teenagers on a school excursion. In total 304 of the 476 individuals on board died, with 250 of them students. The picture at the top of this article shows a classroom memorial that is still maintained for them, with families and friends visiting and leaving notes on their desks and blackboard. The cause of the accident was found to be a combination of things including human error and unsanctioned changes to the boat, ultimately this knowledge offers little comfort to those who lost their children or parents in the crash as explored by this beautiful film.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars