Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review: The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dover Thrift Edition book cover of The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Because every sane person decides to pick up a heavy Russian classic in the fortnight before they're supposed to be reading War & Peace. I'll admit, slogging through The Double has not made me feel good about my ability to reach the end of Tolstoy.

Warning: rubbish review ahead, but there is nothing to say about this book.
 
Plot summary: A lonely government clerk - shy, awkward, blundering - finds himself pursued by a mysterious stranger. Somehow he looks familiar. In fact, he realizes, he looks exactly like him. He even has the same name. But, unlike him, he is charming and confident. Soon the stranger starts insinuating himself into his life. He works at his office, stays at his apartment, ingratiates himself with his colleagues. No one seems surprised. Who is he? What does he want? Is he a double, or something darker altogether? 

I'm sure I'm missing all kinds of symbolism and metaphor here, but I review for enjoyment and I did not enjoy this book.

It's blessedly short, but it still took me more than a week to read due to the rambling narrative and irritating protagonist. It has what could be quite a sinister, interesting plot and the concept did occasionally make me shudder but that's definitely not down to Golyadkin's indecision about whether to blot his paperwork or not.

I'll be honest - I usually try and avoid using the word, but it's boring. To say it has such a dark plot, bugger all actually happens. Lots of worrying and even more pacing, but that's about it. It's also rather depressing, but hey, it is a Russian classic. Excuse me while I go rein in my shock. 

Worryingly, it's quite difficult to follow as obviously Russian literature is notorious for using three similar-sounding titles for every character. Add to that two characters who are actually the same character and it can't really get any worse.  

I'm rather concerned about reading War & Peace now. To be fair, I read and enjoyed Anna Karenina with no trouble at all, but The Double really was very difficult. I know that there will be people reading this who are rolling their eyes for my lack of actual literary criticism, but that's fine. I'm sure the book is a masterpiece of Russian class commentary or something, but the fact is that The Double is Not An Interesting Book To Read.

Sign-up to the War & Peace read-a-long now! 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

IKEA catalogue book cover of Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
I feel like I might actually be the last person to review this, but we'll just refer to it as a delightfully retro review and leave it at that.

Plot summary: It's a classic old-fashioned haunted house story - set in a big box Swedish furniture superstore. Designed like a retail catalogue, Horrorstor offers a creepy read with mass appeal-perfect for Halloween tables! Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Bracken glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofabeds-clearly, someone or something is up to no good. 

To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-til-dawn shift-and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new 21st century economy. A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of contemporary fears), Horrorstor comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalogue, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories.

Why yes, this book does look like an IKEA catalogue. That's not the selling point of this book at all.

It's actually pretty well done. I had several relatives reach for it when I left it on the coffee table, thinking it was an actual catalogue. It's only when you turn it over and see the zombies peering out from the photoframes or open it and notice the diagrams of torture implements, that you realise all may not be what it seems.

The theme continues throughout. On the front and back inside covers there are maps and layouts of the store, and there are those blue and white diagrams of various types of furniture. Some rather niche furniture. The story itself is told in standard, prose paragraphs - which sounds obvious but I wasn't sure how the text was going to be presented before I actually opened the book.

The thing is, how many of us would have bought Horrorstör if it didn't look so unusual? It's very well designed, but what's the story like?

Well, it's fine. It's good, but kind of... shallow. The narrative progresses fairly rapidly, but sometimes it reads more as a list of things that happened. 'Amy did this and then did that and then that thing happened.' It doesn't go in far enough, which prevents it from being scary, I think. The lack of detail meant that I read it quite cheerfully alone at 1am in a dim room. Some of the events are fairly dark and quite gruesome, but there's not much emotion - the characters don't feel scared, so the reader doesn't either.

The concept of the story (not the design) is quite interesting. I won't give it away because it's vaguely spoilery, but it's not something I've seen done often. Again though, it really did need more detail and emotion to work properly. I also totally missed the 'sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new 21st century economy' referred to in the blurb, but I strongly suspect that may be a slightly ambitious wish on the part of the publisher.

I did like this book, but it does feel very gimmicky. Don't get me wrong, it's a very well-done gimmick, but I just don't feel that the story can stand on its own feet. I mean, there was no earthly reason it had to be set in a psuedo-IKEA store - it would have worked just as well anyway. The layout and design are very memorable but the content and the story are actually just mediocre.

Read a more positive review of Horrorstör at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm.
 

Right Now I'm... January 2015

For all you non-British people out there, I know you've all been sat at home rolling your eyes over how we just can't cope with the tiniest bit of snow. Normally I would agree. However, as I am currently unable to leave my house to go to work and partake in the social activities I had planned, I am remarkably grouchy about the afore-mentioned snow and would recommend not saying the above to my face.

Reading:  Austenland by Shannon Hale. I grudgingly watched the film with a friend a few months ago and completely fell in love with it. The basic gist is that Jane, a 30-something completely obsessed with Mr Darcy, ends up travelling to England for a three week holiday in a recreated Regency novel. I didn't want to watch it but it was lovely and charming and genuinely good.

As I'm stuck at home and fed up, I was in need of a pick-me-up so I decided I'd plump for the book version. I have it on good authority that it's amazing and so far it's living up to my expectations, even if the author has clearly never set foot in England in her life.
 
Wearing: My pyjamas, because I see no reason to get out of bed when I CANNOT LEAVE THE HOUSE.

Eating:  Alright, so today isn't a total loss on the food scale. I have three Creme Eggs, three family-sized bags of Kettlechips, two bottles of Coke and copious amounts of tea. There's no need to send the Aid packages just yet. 

Watching: While I accept that today would be the perfect day to sit down with all those book films that I keep threatening to watch (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Silver Linings Playbook, etc) it's unrealistic at best. I just din't have the patience to sit and watch things on my own. I'm fine when I'm with friends, but I pretty much need a Film Buddy to make me pay attention to a movie.
 
Planning: I planned the schedule for the War & Peace Read-a-long 2015 yesterday. Find it here or you can sign-up here.

Since I'm at home all day, I'm hoping to catch up with some reviews and some admin for a charity I volunteer with.

Feeling: Guilty. I hate not going into work, both because I enjoy it and because if I say I'm going to do something, I hate not doing it. I know that I absolutely did not have a choice this morning (my road is like a ski slope and it's blocked off at the bottom), but it still doesn't feel good.

I also feel bad about cancelling on my friends, as it was arranged by someone who had some bad news this week and needed cheering up.

Stubbornly, I also just kind of want to leave my house. I'm feeling rather trapped at the moment, as dramatic as that sounds. 




Loving: I was offered a job this week that I'm really excited about. It's pretty much what I've been wanting to do for a while now and I was thrilled when they phoned to let me know.
I don't start for a month, but that means there's plenty of time to read around the subject and make sure I'm fully prepped to get started. 

Wanting: TO LEAVE THE HOUSE. Are you seeing the pattern here? There's a pattern.

Thinking: About what I'm going to do with my day. It's going to be quite a quiet one, but at least it's an opportunity to get a lot done.

Looking forward to: ... leaving... the... house? That is actually true, but I'm also looking forward to everything getting back to normal and grovelling for forgiveness for cancelling plans!
What are you up to, this cold and miserable Friday?

Thursday, 29 January 2015

War & Peace Read-a-long 2015 Schedule

 

It's almost time, people!

The reading schedule is below. I've made the executive decision to extend the reading period for a further two weeks, just because there's so much to cram into such a short period of time.

On the bright side, everything I've read about War & Peace states that Tolstoy's chapters are blessedly short and apparently reading thirty chapters in a week is nothing like as unreasonable as it would be for any other book. Beside, if needs be, we can always extend the time period.  

Honestly though, I've heard that this book is good. Daunting, yes, but not overly difficult in itself. Besides, it's perfectly okay to skim-read lengthy descriptions of military tactics if that's not your thing.

Just think - in three months time, you'll have read War & Peace!

1st-8th Feb - Book One
8th-15th Feb - Book Two and Book Three
15th - 22nd Feb - Book Four and Book Five
22nd - 1st March - Book Six and Book Seven
1st - 8th March - Book Eight
8th - 15th March - Book Nine
15th - 22nd March - Book Ten (Chapters 1-30)
22nd-29th March - Book Ten (Chapters 31-39) and Book Eleven
29th -  5th April - Book Twelve
5th - 12th April - Book Thirteen
12th - 19th April - Book Fourteen and Fifteen
19th - 26th April - Epilogues

So, the above denotes the reading time. So, for example, we'll be reading Book One between the 1st and 8th of February, with posts going up on the 8th. Each week I'll post a list of questions and prompts, but it's totally up to you if you want to bother with those or not.

It's not too late to sign up - you can do so here!

Good luck everybody!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Top Ten Most Annoying Fictional Characters

An irritating fictional character is the thing that has the most potential to completely ruin a book for me, aside from maybe a pointless annoying romance (although I'll talk about that nearer to Valentine's Day). I have a certain list of characters who I really, vehemently feel should be pushed off the nearest cliff - the most annoying of the annoying characters.

1) Tess Durbeyfield and Angel Clare from Tess of the d'Urbervilles

I'd repeat these two for every item on this list if I could as I swear I've never hated two people so much in my entire life. You can probably tell from my Tess of the d'Ubervilles post, that I couldn't reasonably refer to as a review. 

This book put me in a bad mood for about three days and it was totally the fault of stupid Tess and her stupid husband.

Tess spends the book sighing dramatically and pathetically hoping that her husband is going to drown her. Angel Clare, the afore-mentioned husband, has a hissy fit that his new wife was raped in the past, which she told him only after he confessed to spending a weekend of nonstop depravity with another woman.

Argh, I'm getting mad just thinking about it. Just read the post - it's suitably ranty.

'Tess is the problem, as you may have guessed by my passive-aggressiveness. I just HATED her. She was so mind-numbingly sorry for herself when actually, everything was her own doing (except the rape, obviously). She could have fixed her problems by standing up for herself - even Angel said that he would have respected her more if she stood her ground. She's pathetic. PATHETIC.'

2) Hazel and Augustus Gloop from The Fault in Our Stars

Ah yes, these two. They come a close second to Tess and Angel, actually. Well, perhaps not. God I hate Tess. But they're still pretty bad.

Since reading this, I've just accepted that I don't like John Green's books and that's fine. I haven't even disliked his other books particularly, they're just not for me. The Fault in Our Stars, however, actually ended in the book being slammed down in a temper, pretty much entirely due to Hazel.

John Green's characters are never believable at the best of times, but she's awful. So whiny and melodramatic. Yes, I'm aware she has cancer but she spends most of the book informing OTHER PEOPLE WITH CANCER exactly how correct she is about her wordly views. Just read the quote on my review page.

And Augustus, who smokes cigarettes 'ironically?' Are you joking?

'I just wanted to smack Hazel by the end, cancer or no cancer. She is the most selfish, inconsiderate whiny little brat I've ever read about. She's ungrateful for her mother's attention and refuses to believe that anybody else in the entire world can be ill but herself. Halfway through I seriously considered making a list of everything she doesn't like but then I realised it would be far quicker to just scribble down the few things she does. They go on a free holiday and she complains that her dream destination, wait for it... looks too much like her dream destination. For God's SAKE.

3) Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein

I first read this when I was about fifteen and didn't like it all that much as I thought it consisted merely of rambling essays about life and morality.

Alright, so I wasn't that far wrong, but I still enjoyed it an awful lot more this time round, although it seems that I got waaaaaay angrier at Victor Frankenstein than I ever remember being in the past. He's just so... mean. His creature is ugly and terrifying, but also alone, scared and confused about his purpose in life so he asks Victor for help. You know, the person that created him.

But no, he's too busy screaming about how evil the Monster is even though... he created... him...? *confused*

'Anyway, I really dislike Victor. Everything is his own doing but he just refuses to see it. The Monster goes "Hey dude, you were pretty shit. Still, if you're nice to me now, I'll just amble off and leave you in peace," but Victor is too busy being shrill and denoucing the creature as evil. You know, that creature he created. He doesn't take any responsibility for his actions - he runs away screaming the second the monster comes to life and just leaves him to fend for himself.'  

4) Jo March from Little Women

This isn't going to make me popular, is it? *ducks flying projectiles thrown by Bex*

I know she's the favourite character of a lot of people, but I absolutely don't understand it at all. I spent a lot of Little Women and all of Good Wives desperately wanting to strangle Jo.

All her sisters are like "Oh, but she's trying..." NO. Try harder, Jo. Stop being so arrogant and whiny and demanding. But then, why would you? Everyone just pats you on the head and LETS YOU GET AWAY WITH IT. 

And now I'm grouchy all over again. God I hate Jo.

'It's weird though - I don't like Jo much and everybody else seems to. There isn't a main character exactly, but it's told from her POV more than any other and she just... irritates me. She's always being petted, much more than Amy who's meant to be the spoilt one, and never gets in trouble for anything, however dangerous her prank may have been.' 

5) Thingy from Teardrop

I can't even remember her name as the book was so awful that I didn't even finish it. I do have a soft spot for the review though as it was the first time I earned an angry comment hater. Bless her. Our 'disagreement' spanned across three whole blogs :)

The book actually feels like a parody of YA fiction as it's that bad, but the main character herself just defies belief. She's mean to all her friends, including the one that's trying to help her come to terms with the death of her mother, and is so melodramatic that I just wanted to punch her in the face.

Oh God, her name is Eureka. No wonder I blocked it out.

'Eureka herself has to be the worst fictional character I have ever come across. I know her Mum has just died and I'm very sorry about that. But please, dear God, stop talking about it. She's unbelievably melodramatic - more so than Sloane in This Is Not A Test, and she tried to sacrifice herself to a zombie horde. She can't be in the school group photo because OMG MY MOM DIED and 'You know I don't like boys since MY MOM DIED. God, you are SO INSENSITIVE.' Also, it is not a 'death sentence' to sit at a lunch table with people. I hated this. Hated. I was so angry at it that I actually had to keep putting it down before it ruined my mood for the day.'  

6) Lydia Bennett from Pride and Prejudice

I feel sort of guilty for even including Lydia in this list, as it's pretty much common knowledge that Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book. I have 70 copies, so come on.

Lydia though... Lydia is annoying. My only gripe with the book is that she doesn't get a proper comeuppance for her actions. Having said that, when I reread the book last year (for the fifth time) I did notice a sentence that implied her and Wickham fell out of love pretty quickly, so I'm going to cling on to that next time I read it. 

7) Sloane from This Is Not A Test

My irritation with melodramatic characters is so well known that three different people warned me that I wasn't going to like Sloane before I even picked this up. Well, they were right, but I ended up liking the book anyway.

It doesn't stop her being awful though. She says she's suicidal and spends a lot of the book whining that she wants to sacrifice herself to the zombies... but nobody stops her. Go for it, seriously.

I just can't deal with melodrama! I know I'm sat here like a stereotypical teenage girl, twirling my hair and going "Ya know, I like... totally hate drah-ma?" And I've been guilty of over-reacting myself, I know. But in books it just seems so much WORSE!

'She's awful. Like a caricature of the worst female protagonist ever. Way too over the top. My review notebook just degenerates into a list of scrawled expletives. The thing is, she constantly talks about how she wishes she could die, but NOBODY IS STOPPING HER. I genuinely and literally cannot explain adequately how much I hated her, and yes, it did ruin the book a little.' 

8) Captain Hastings from most Agatha Christies

With this, I'm also including John Watson, Miss Marple's friends and pretty much everybody from a murder mystery written before 1960.

Look. You have been a sidekick to this detective for two decades, during which time they have never once, NOT ONCE, been wrong. This means that you could probably stop from questioning their sanity, experience and sense every single time they imply they might have reached a conclusion. 

If I have to read "I was beginning to think that perhaps it was time my little Belgian friend retired from the field of investigation, as clearly his age was affecting him..." I am going to hunt Hastings down and we are going to have A Falling Out. 

9) Pretty much everybody from Wuthering Heights

Whenever I think about Wuthering Heights, I always think of a scene from the Thursday Next books where she has to manage an anger management session for all the characters. They're all too busy bitching at each other to progress the plot in any way, shape or form. 

I don't like the book anyway (obviously), but I liked the characters even less. In fairness, it's probably due for a reread. It was one of the batch of classics I read in my mid-teens and maybe I just didn't appreciate it properly. But I'm not holding my breath. 

10) Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings

I should specify that I'm primarily referring to The Return of the King, as Frodo is mildly less annoying in the previous installments.

He's just so whiny and so mean to Sam, who could probably have just carried the Ring to Mordor whilst dragging Frodo behind him by his hair... which he pretty much ended up doing anyway. 

When I finally read The Hobbit, it was such a huge relief that Bilbo is infinitely more bearable than Frodo.

Which fictional characters irritate you the most? 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Book cover of The Paris Wife by Paula McLainSo I know I'm not meant to be talking about this yet. The Paris Wife was the January pick for our online book club and it would have made more sense for me to discuss it here afterwards, otherwise the other eleven people will be subjected to my over-emotional and hysterical ramblings (you'll see) twice. That said, I really want to talk about it right now, having finished the book approximately twelve seconds ago, so I'll just have to try and come up with something intelligent to say for the 'meeting.'

Plot summary: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadley's marriage begins to founder, and the birth of a beloved son only drives them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest's ferocious literary endeavours bring him recognition - not least from a woman intent on making him her own.

Let me start by saying that there is absolutely no chance of any kind of objectivity in this review. I hate Ernest Hemingway and always have. I don't like his works, I don't like his attitude and I don't like his character. I've read a biography and a half, plus two of his novels and his every existence irritates me. If I could, I'd ban every single one of his novels... except he'd probably love the notoriety. The Paris Wife, however, forced me to look at exactly why I hate him so much. This isn't going to make for pretty reading.

My usual take on these novels is to replace the main characters names with standard non-famous-person names to see if the actual story and prose still hold up on their own. To the extent that that was possible here, it does seem to. It's written very well, providing a nice balance of 1930s Parisian atmosphere with dialogue and plot. The dialogue isn't stilted and I didn't have a problem keeping the many characters straight. If I were to replace 'Hadley' and 'Ernest' with 'Richard' and 'Carol,' I feel that it would still be an interesting book.

My only issue with the book itself was that every so often the narrative will change over to Hemingway's point of view. It's only for two pages or so, but it doesn't seem to be evenly spaced out and in my view it's not necessary. It reads as though those passages were shoved in later in an attempt to make the character seem less unlikeable. They're all about how confused he is and how guilty he feels, etc etc. I'm sorry but they're just not plausible. I've read enough about him and known someone enough like him to fully accept understand that they don't think like that. It's not in their nature.

He's real though. Paula McLain has done a truly excellent job in bringing Ernest Hemingway to life. Obviously we'll never meet him and therefore can't give her points for accuracy, but this version of him fits with everything I've read and seems to just jump off the page.

The problem with his lifelikeness (hey, that's a word - or it is while I'm frantically typing like a madwoman anyway), is that I was so damned furious when I'd finished the book. He walks over everybody, screws over his friends and gets annoyed when they object, and generally treats everybody like they should cater to his every whim. He seems to genuinely believe that he should be held to a better standard than everybody around him, regardless of how much they've gone out of their way to help him.

I had someone just like that in my personal life for a while and so this book got to me quite strongly. I was angry and upset with Hemingway for his behaviour, with Hadley for not being stronger and with myself for putting up with it. Sometimes it's hard to separate a book from your own experiences and feelings, but they can bring a semblance of clarity to what had previously confused you. In addition, it shows how beautifully this book is written that it brought my own experiences to the fore.

I'm not sure that Hadley herself was quite as fleshed out as she seemed a little flat and her behaviour was inconsistent. She was ridiculously stoic for a while to an extent that irritated me greatly -  of course he's going to move his Mistress into the house if you don't tell him that you object! It's fucking Hemingway. Instead she decides to be all martyred, but then goes mental and slaps him... and then goes back to martyrdom. Everyone reacts differently to these things, but I felt that her behaviour could have been smoothed out a little.

I'd actually like to sit here and rant about her complete lack of backbone - she lets Hemingway do far too much to her because she's scared she'll lose him if she complains. It really was profoundly irritating. Unfortunately I don't feel that I can fairly do that as I'm not sure how much of it was known to be actually true in real life, and it would hardly be the author's fault for accurately recreating it.

This book surprised me. I'd owned it since July 2012 and never once seriously considered opening it. In fact, I probably still wouldn't have, if it weren't for Bex and her book club. Personal feelings about Hemingway aside, this is a wonderful book. I knew the story already and it still didn't put me off from enjoying the real characters, the beautiful descriptions and somewhat moving story.

Read a much more objective review of The Paris Wife at Write Meg!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Review: Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson

Hardback UK book cover of Severed by Frances Larson
This is the book I bought on Christmas Eve and read over the festive period - a non-fiction book about severed heads. What screams 'CHRISTMAS!' more than learning how to remove decaying flesh from a skull for display purposes?

Summary: The human head is exceptional. It accommodates four of our five senses, encases the brain and boasts the most expressive set of muscles in the body. It is our most distinctive attribute and it connects our inner selves to the outer world more intensely than any other part of the body. Yet there is a dark side to the head's pre-eminence, one that has, in the course of Western history, manifested itself in everything from decapitation to headhunting. Over the centuries, human heads have decorated our churches, festooned our city walls and filled our museums. Long-regarded as objects of fascination and repulsion, they have been props for portrait artists and specimens for laboratory scientists, trophies for soldiers and items of barter. 

From the western collectors whose demand for shrunken heads spurred brutal massacres, to the Second World War soldiers who sent the remains of Japanese opponents home to their girlfriends; from the memento mori in Romantic portraits to Damien Hirst's platinum skull set with diamonds; from grave-robbing phrenologists to skull-obsessed scientists, Larson explores the bizarre, fantastical and confounding history of the severed head, and offers us a new perspective on our macabre preoccupations.

Severed has eight chapters (discounting the introduction and conclusion) all named after a different type of head. These include:

Shrunken Heads
Trophy Heads
Deposed Heads
Framed Heads
Potent Heads
Bone Heads
Dissected Heads
Living Heads

It's easy to guess the topic of some of these 'head'ings (HA), but not so much for others. We'll go through them anyway, as there is a little disparity in quality between the different chapters.

Shrunken Heads interested me an awful lot more than I expected it to. I suppose it's one of those topics that you think you know all about, but actually don't in the slightest. The author works from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which is famous for its selection of shrunken heads, so she's more than familiar with the concept. This chapter touches on the reasons for creating the heads in the first place (and whatever you're thinking, you're wrong), the process and the effects of Western influence.

I'd also expected to have to skim the second chapter, Trophy Heads, which is about heads (or parts thereof) being taken home from war as, you guessed it, trophies. Honestly, war doesn't interest me all that much - or not 20th Century warfare, anyway. This... this was actually fascinating, however. It discusses how (for example) during the Pacific War, American troops were so thoroughly brainwashed to believe that the Japanese soldiers weren't actually people, that they thought nothing of cleaning a newly-killed enemy's skull and sending it home to the family.

Deposed Heads was the chapter I was looking forward to the most, although I admit that I'd expected it to be longer. While the information contained is very interesting, I was hoping for more content on the history and examples of execution. It's the first thing that comes to mind when you think 'severed head,' after all. If I'm honest, it is pretty much the reason I bought it and it felt a little lacking.

The fourth chapter, Framed Heads, bored me a little and I ended up skimming parts of it. Call me a philistine, but I'm just not that interested in Attention Art. I don't care if somebody thought it was a good idea to freeze their blood and sculpt their head out of it - I don't want to look at it, but it doesn't bother me either. Complete apathy. My lack of interest isn't the fault of the book, however - it's written just as accessibly as the rest of it... but eh. Not my thing.

Unfortunately it does start to go a little downhill from here - Potent, Bone and Dissected Heads are remarkably similar and often repeat the same information. I swear I'm a bone (HA - ah, this is fun) a fide expert on the various ways to remove flesh from a skull by now. I'm also very, very aware that corpses used for dissections were almost always from the prison/workhouse and that there was a difficulty in getting hold of non-Anglo corpses. I know. I do. Please stop.

I understand that there are only so many different types of heads to discuss, but I do feel the information could have been separated slightly better to avoid unecessary repetition.

Thankfully, it does pick back up with the final chapter, Living Heads, which is mostly dedicated to cryogenics and other methods of keeping severed heads alive. I now know exactly how much it will cost, should I ever decide I want to be frozen for the indefinite future.

Whatever the specific circumstances, usually the people who take heads see themselves as inherently different from the people whose heads they take. They objectify their target to a certain extent. It is easy to see how cutting off a person's head transforms that person into a particularly potent kind of object - but frequently that process has already begun before the first cut is made.

The book is written very accessibly, which isn't easy considering the amount of medical terminology involved. It has a light, chatty tone that still manages to imbue an aura of authority throughout - it's not a dusty textbook, but Frances Larson still sounds like she knows what she's talking about. I'm definitely impressed with the balanced way it was written.

I really enjoyed Severed, on the whole. I think I was expecting more of a historical work, when it's actually more medical/anthropological. There's a lot more time spent on native tribes and surgical examinations than on the history of the guillotine, for example. Which is absolutely fine, but I think I was swayed by the word 'history' on the cover and the images of Anne Boleyn. It's still absorbing, but not as relevant to my interests as I had expected.     

Visit Frances Larson's website here or find her on Twitter. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

UK hardback cover of Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
In 2014 I discovered an amazing series. It began with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which created an entirely unique world and intriguing story to with it. It was then followed by Days of Blood and Starlight, which managed to keep exactly the same tone, world and characters yet still advance the plot in new, exciting ways. Then comes Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Sigh. You'll see.

Plot summary: Common enemy, common cause. When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. 

It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ...something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world. 

What power can bruise the sky? From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theatre that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

I was desperate to read this book. I'd fallen completely in love with the first two books in the series and had high hopes for this installment. After all, it's usually the second book that disappoints readers in a series - the third, the finale, is usually a safe bet. Thus I allowed myself to get excited - I knew it would be good

It's not. It's actually pretty horrendous. I expect that it only seems so horrific to me because it's had to fall so far from my lofty expecations, but let's just say that it's landed with a hefty thud. 

The world has lost none of its power, however. Dreams of Gods and Monsters features the same detail and ingenuity that made its precessors so great. Even the story itself, for the majority of the novel, is interesting. There's action, tension, new twists... it's pretty great. Perhaps slightly too much wandering around, but only slightly.

However, a new set of people are introduced in Dreams of Gods and Monsters and play quite a large part in the story, but they're brought in far too late for such a big role and I just didn't care about them. Every time the narrative switched over, I got irritated and just wanted to go back to Karou. The story of the war and her dream for a better life was surely the point of the entire series and it seemed to get a little lost. 

At 95% of the way through, I loved where the story was going. There was a new twist that was absolutely fascinating and a perfect way to resolve the issues between the Seraphim and the Chimaera. I absolutely could not wait to see how it all worked in the next book, as it was just too much to deal with in the remaining 5%.

So I finished the book, googled the released date of the next book and... there isn't one. Just an announcement on Laini Taylor's blog about how happy she is to have finished a trilogy.

What? No. It's not finished. It just ends. Alright, so the war has been wrapped up, but a new storyline is introduced that's dark and interesting, but then it just... stops. I don't understand. It wasn't even necessary to introduce the new twist for the original story to be resolved, so why bother if you're not going to do anything with it? 

I know it sounds like I'm sat here going 'Waahhh, I wish there were more books!' but that's not it at all. I can't actually explain how much of the story is missing unless you've read the book and suffered through it for yourself.  It honestly reads like the author came up with all these great new ideas but then couldn't be bothered to explain or develop them, so just shrugged her shoulders, shoved them in anyhow and patted herself on the back for 'finishing' the series.

I put down this book genuinely upset - I'd invested a lot into these series but then I was completely let down. I had that tight 'denied' feeling in my stomach as it's just... not good. 


This book was:
 Read another review of Dreams of Gods and Monsters at Love is Not a Triangle.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

REMINDER: War and Peace Read-a-long 2015!


Only three weeks left to sign up for the War & Peace read-a-long!

There will be ten weeks of finally reading that book you've always meant to get to, plus the added bonus of getting to be nosy at everybody else's posts. We'll start reading on February 1st and every Sunday after that, I'll post a list of prompts/questions that you can answer in your own post if you want to. If you don't, just have a good old ramble. Either way, link up on this blog and we can all support each other.

Some people have asked me if the time period of eleven weeks is really long enough for this. I'll be posting in a schedule in a fortnight so you can have a look for yourself, but I'm perfectly willing to extend the time period if we need to.

Just think - in three months time, you'll have read War & Peace!

Review: Lady Chatterley's Trial by Penguin Books

Lady Chatterley's Trial book cover by Penguin Books
Lady Chatterley's Lover is actually one of my favourite books; a statement which is usually met with a raised eyebrow and a little smirk by those who know the book by reputation alone. Its sordid status comes, of course, from the censorship trial of 1960 when a jury were asked to decide whether the novel was just too obscene for public release. There are two things to remember here, folks:

a) There's actually remarkably little sex in this at all. It's not very graphic, it's not very long (*smirks*) and it's not that frequent either. The moral outrage was more about the theoretical promotion of adultery than the sex scenes themselves and readers in the 1960s were a lot more easily shocked than today; and

b) You know there are other parts to this book, right? Like, there is a story here and stuff?

Summary: In May 2005 Penguin will publish 70 unique titles to celebrate the company's 70th birthday. The titles in the Pocket Penguins series are emblematic of the renowned breadth of quality of the Penguin list and will hark back to Penguin founder Allen Lane's vision of good books for all'. In 1960, thirty years after D. H. Lawrence's death, Penguin moved to publish his most provocative novel Lady Chatterley's Lover for the first time. What followed was the most significant literary obscenity trial of the twentieth century, as Penguin called upon a string of expert witnesses including E. M. Forster and Sir Allen Lane to triumphantly defend the book's literary merit, in a case that compellingly reflected the changing face of contemporary society.

I was expecting a short book analysing the censorship trial with maybe a few quotes thrown in for good measure, so I was initially quite disappointed when I realised that it's actually just a collection of excerpts from the trial with no commentary at all, not even an introduction.

While I'd still like to read such a book (if one exists), Lady Chatterley's Trial is still worth reading in its own right. As a quick disclaimer, I'm a lawyer. I have absolutely no idea whether this would be of interest to somebody who doesn't have a bundle of ridiculously pretentious qualifications, or if you'd have more fun using it to make a papier mache bowl. I do know that only quotes from the main hearing of the main trial are included - there aren't any dry comments on procedure, directions, process, etc. Purely the interesting parts, and as it was being aimed at a jury at the time, it's perfectly comprehensible.

</condescension>

There must be quite a lot missing as this is only 54 pages long and these hearing things (technical terms) can go on for days. Barristers aren't exactly renowned for their brevity. The gist is there, often in summarised form, but I'd have liked to have read the nitty gritty. Actually, what I'd really like is to read a transcript of the jury's deliberations, but that's not possible and never will be.

The first page states 'it is hoped that (this book) is reasonably fair to both sides.' Without seeing a full transcript I can't be absolutely positive, but it does seem that rather a lot more of the prosecution's submissions are missing than the defendant's! Their cross-examination summary is a lot shorter and less detailed. Were there really no prosecution witnesses? It's almost like Penguin were biased in favour of their own company or something...

Don't get me wrong, I realise this book was published by PENGUIN to celebrate PENGUIN'S anniversary of publishing PENGUIN books and it would be completely unreasonable to expect them to include every snippet of why they shouldn't be allowed to publish exactly what they choose. Just pointing it out :)

I actually do feel all fuzzy about Penguin now, to be honest. I knew their basic story before - that Allen Lane was shocked that the working classes couldn't afford to buy books, so he strove to publish paperbacks no more expensive than a pack of cigarettes. Without him, who knows whether books would be as widely available and affordable today. Their story is fleshed out a little more in Lady Chatterley's Trial and it really made me appreciate all the books on my shelves and that I can buy a cheap-ass paperback instead of a hardback, leatherbound monstrosity.

But of course that whole attitude is one which Penguin Books was formed to fight against, which they have always fought against, and which they will go on fighting against - the attitude that it is all right to publish a special edition at five or ten guineas so that people who are less well off cannot read what other people read. Isn't everybody, whether earning £10 a week or £20 a week, equally interested in the society in which we live, in the problems of human relationships including sexual relationships?
*spontaneous applause from the cheap seats*

I can't even really explain why I fell in love with this book so much, considering it's just a collection of quotes and summaries of speeches. Maybe it's not the book I like, but the concept. Excuse the tweeness, but it made me feel so lucky and so privileged that we live in a country where we can afford to own 300 books we haven't even opened yet, and where it's perfectly okay to publish a novel where a bored aristo has sex with the groundskeeper in the woodshed.

That's thanks to twelve (it is twelve, right? There are certain people reading this who will never let me live it down if it's not...) normal, average men and women who realised that books should never be banned because they contain a concept that you don't agree with and that Penguin Books should be commended for striving to make books available to the masses. I assume that's what they realised, anyway... perhaps they just wanted to wrap-up so they could go out for a smoke.


Read my review of Lady Chatterley's Lover... which we're allowed to read, thanks to Penguin!

The End of Year Book Survey 2014

2014 End Of Year Book Survey 
Hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner, as always. 

1. The Best Book of 2014 
 
It shouldn't be this easy to pick just one book out of the 99 I read in 2014... and yet it is.

The best book I read in 2014 was We Need To Talk About Kevin, hands down. Every reader seems to come away from it with their own interpretation based on their own experiences and morals, which is a mark of truly amazing storytelling. It still haunts me now, six months on. 

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did? 

It hurts me a little bit to do this, but I'm going to have to go with Dreams of Gods and Monsters, which is the last book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. 

I adored the first two books in the series and naturally had high hopes for the final installment... but it was such a let-down. I haven't reviewed it yet (it's due next but one) but the main problem was the complete lack of any concrete ending. I finished it bewildered, angry and a little hurt. 

3. Most surprising book of 2014?   
 
The Song of Achilles surprised me quite a bit. Not necessary about how good it was, as it came highly recommended by Charlotte which is always a bonus, but more because of how it changed my view.

I've read a plethora of books about The Siege of Troy and not once, NOT ONCE, have I ever rooted for the Spartans. I'm obviously fully aware of how the story has to end, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

When I was reading this, however, I found myself sort of... caring, about them a little bit. Shush. It's our little secret. 

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2014? 

There isn't really a single book that stands out as one that I particularly rammed down people's throats this year. The books that I would have, We Need To Talk About Kevin and The Song of Achilles, my favourite people have already read!

I suppose I did get all excited about It's Kind Of A Funny Story and sent shouty texts to both Ellie and Charlotte. Not that either of them deigned to read it, mind.

Hey, it's good! Much better than I expected. 

5. Best series you discovered in 2014?   

I'd typed out a whole paragraph about how great The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was, despite the awful let-down of an ending. I was all set to (grudgingly) leave it there, because it's still a pretty awesome series.

Then I remembered The Selection series, which starts out mediocre and ends up amazing... the other way round to TDOSAB, which is an infinitely better idea.

I had low expectations of this series (based almost entirely on the cover) but it turns out to be about a lot more than pretty dresses.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014? 

I don't actually have an answer for this one. All the new authors I fell in love with are non-prolific and only have that one book out, so it's not really fair to declare them a favourite author. Conversely, all the new authors I read with numerous books out can't really be considered as favourites. Life is woe.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?  
 
As I was desperately (and to no avail) trying to beat into a colleague's head this morning, I don't really have a comfort zone when it comes to reading. I happily and frequently read adult, YA, fantasy, translations, graphic novels... I don't care. I'll read almost anything.

For the sake of having an answer, I'll go with The Vintage Girl because I don't read a whole lot of romantic fiction and I did really enjoy it. 

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014? 

And this is where we start repeating ourselves.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is a formal, heavy, lengthy book... and yet I still couldn't put it down. I had to be reading it every second of every day even though it was horrible and broke me into tiny little pieces. 

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year?       

Every year, roughly 10% of the books I pick up are rereads, which isn't a whole lot. In addition, I definitely don't reread the year after! I'm going to interpret this question as 'the book that you're likely to reread at some point.'

I'll definitely be rereading The Silver Linings Playbook, most likely when I eventually get round to watching the film. I loved the casual yet intimate tone of the novel and I do want to see the movie, but... I'm rubbish. I need to find a film buddy or something.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character in 2014? 
Aaaaaaaand we're back to Kevin. He was just so real. His speech, his mannerisms, his attitude... it was so perfectly crafted that I was looking over my shoulder for weeks.
Obviously he's not a particularly likeable character, regardless of what Ellie may have you believe, but he's certainly memorable. I can still picture him now.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014? 
The Song of Achilles was so beautiful that it made me cry on a train. Cheers, Charlotte.
13. Most thought-provoking/life changing book of 2014?
HHhH is a non-fiction examination of the two parachutists responsible for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Nazi-occupied Prague. Only thing is, it's written by a person, not a historian. Laurent Bisset actually talks to you about writing the book whilst he's telling you about the parachutists.

His personal approach means that everything seems so much more real. There's one particular paragraph about how the war was really won by the little people - the families that harboured Jews, or the individuals who found weapons for the parachutists. A lot of them were killed, but history can't possibly remember them all. 
It really got to me and made me appreciate the absolute bravery of the normal people, in every country.
14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?   
*waves We Need To Talk About Kevin banner*
 I hate that I could have read this years ago.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?  
Alright, so I hated Tess of the d'Ubervilles with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but as a chronic insomniac, I did really like this quote:
In her misery she rocked herself upon the bed. The clock struck the solemn hour of one, that hour when fancy stalks outside reason, and malignant possibilities stand rock-firm as facts.  
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Shortest: Lady Chatterley's Trial, at 54 pages. It's a collection of really interesting excerpts from the Penguin censorship trial of 1960.
Longest: Technically, this should be The Pickwick Papers at 914 pages, and then The Goldfinch at 771. However, as I finished neither of these books (they're both long-winded and dull) it doesn't seem fair to use them here. The longest book that I actually completed was Assassin's Quest, the third book of the Farseer trilogy, at 757 pages.
17. Book that shocked you the most
You know this. You do, I assure you.

It's just good, alright!?
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpu
18. OTP OF THE YEAR
I'm pretty sure this means favourite romantic relationship? Well that's what I'm going to talk about, anyway.
While I do love the relationship in the Throne of Glass series, they didn't actually feature at all in the installment I read this year, so I can't count it. 
I reread the Percy Jackson series early this year, so I'm going to use Percy/Annabeth. I like how it barely features in the series at all, even in the very last book, and they built their relationship on a solid friendship instead of that love at first sight crap.
#cynic.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year 

I got nothing. Usually I love books where there's strong platonic chemistry between certain characters, but apparently I'm just not feeling it this year.


20. Favourite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Like I said in #6, most of the authors I've read this year have only published the one book.
21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
I had absolutely zero interest in The Song of Achilles until Charlotte began to pointedly and vehemently drop it in conversation every forty seconds...

Quite simply, I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I thought it was about a descendant of Achilles or something equally twee and I just couldn't be bothered. I'd have missed out on this amazing, beautiful book.

I owe you one. In fact, no. Let's just call it even for Hope: A Tragedy, shall we? :)
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?Ugh. I don't really do that. I prefer real people, thank you.


23. Best 2014 debut you read? Best book you reread in 2014?

I did reread Pride and Prejudice last January, so I'd expected to be writing about that.

However, I was so blown away by my reread of To Kill A Mockingbird that I just have to use that instead. I think it's because I pick up Pride and Prejudice fairly frequently so I know what to expect, while I hadn't read this since I was 19.

Maybe I didn't 'get' it last time or perhaps I was in a better frame of mind, but I don't remember being as amazed by it in 2009.


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?I've already raved about the unbelievable detail that went into the worldbuilding of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, so I won't rehash it. Just know that it's a completely unique concept and it's written so fluidly that you can almost see Erebor in front of you.

The reason for The Teeth Thing is also an incredibly important part of that world and it's fascinating.



25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

I'm probably going to hell to this, but the most amusing book I read this year was Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes.

It's not the book itself that amused me, which features a very confused Hitler somehow ending up in present-day Germany, as it's actually quite heavy on the political side. It's more Hitler's outrage at Germany being run by a woman, Berlin not being destroyed as per his final orders, etc. It's interesting and rather satisfying, actually.


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?I'm a giant wuss and I cry at a ridiculous amount of things, but The Song of Achilles really, really got to me.

Charlotte didn't warn me not to read the book in public and so I ended up quietly sobbing to myself on a train to Sheffield this May. I don't care. It was worth it.


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
 
I couldn't figure out what this question was actually getting it, but then I remembered that a) it's my survey and I can interpret it however the hell I choose and b) I've been filling this out for three days now and I DON'T CARE ANYMORE.

I read The Vintage Girl when I was quite ill and profoundly miserable, and it really cheered me up. It's not a hugely popular book, but it was sweet and happy and made me feel all fuzzy inside :) 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

We Need To Talk About Kevin (I know, I know) broke me into little tiny pieces... then, when I thought it was finished, it stamped all over the afore-mentioned pieces. Genuinely, I walked around in a shellshocked stupor for three days afterwards and just couldn't think about anything else.

It's a horrific, in a still-necessary-for-the-plot way.


Soul. Crushed. 
 
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

My first instinct was to use Horrors
tör here, the new horror story that's set out to look exactly like an IKEA catalogue. Then I realised that while the design is actually very clever, the story itself is fairly generic.

Instead I'm going to opt for HHhH. While Nazi-related non-fiction is hardly unique, the narrative method definitely is and I found that it worked very well. I'd read non-fiction on almost any topic if it was told like this.


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?No struggles here. Tess of the d'Ubervilles, hands down, made me the most angry this year. There are other contenders, like We Need To Talk About Kevin, but those books angered me because they were meant to. Tess is just... bad.

I hated it so much I couldn't even fairly refer to my post as a review.



I've finished! I've finally finished! See you next year.

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 



 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?


 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?


11. Most memorable character of 2014?


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?


 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 


 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?


How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?


23. Best 2014 debut you read?


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

- See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.yF49tGeD.dpuf

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