Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday looks at popular books that lived up to the hype. I could name quite a few books that didn’t live up to their hype, but here are the ones that I think did. We’ll have to leave the ones that didn’t for another day.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Book Review: Plague by Michael Grant

81apkuk0bplPlague by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2011)

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape or even survive life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

I have mixed feelings about Plague, the fourth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. If you’re squeamish, there are some scenes in this novel that will really make you want to close the book. Warning: do not eat while reading this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised since the title of the book is ‘Plague’. There are people coughing their insides out or having evil bugs hatching out of them and eating them alive – gross. Let’s not linger on that.

Grossness aside, this is a great book. While the previous books in the series felt quite disjointed to me, this one fit together much better. Each of the individual threads were tied together so nothing felt random or out of place like some of the scenes or story lines in the previous books did. All of the plot elements were heading in one direction, which made this novel gel better.

The power relations and struggles are really interesting in this book and the series as a whole. Dynamics between all the characters is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to this series. It’s great to see how relationships, friendships and rivalries evolve over the course of the story as different problems are thrown at the characters.

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Mid-year Reading Round Up 2018

33154647We’re already halfway through 2018! So today I’m looking back at what my best books have been so far this year and looking ahead at what novels I want to sink my teeth into in the second half of 2018. According to Goodreads I’m on track to reach my 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 25 books, having read 12 so far this year.

Two books that I loved were Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray and The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Defy the Stars had me hooked all the way through and I loved the darkness of The Young Elites. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass was also a highlight.

I finished Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy but unfortunately was disappointed by the final book, Ruin and Rising. The series is still a favourite of mine though. Other books that didn’t live up to my hopes were The Girl King by Meg Clothier and S.T.A.G.S. by M. A. Bennett – both had great concepts and potential, but could have been much better.

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Book Review: Lies by Michael Grant

61c1539c28b0c6b76a92c02b9c88c34eLies by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: 2011 by Egmont Books (first published 2010)

Pages: 472

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

66 Hours, 52 Minutes

Suddenly, it’s a world without adults and normal has crashed and burned. When life as you know it ends at 15, everything changes.

Tensions are growing in the FAYZ. The mutants are under attack. Food is scarce. Sam’s gone AWOL.

At night, a solitary figure roams the streets– the ghost of a boy with a whip hand, haunting the dreams of those he has tormented.

Then the town is deliberately set on fire… And through the flames, Sam sees the figure he dreads most–Drake. But that’s impossible: Drake is dead.

Lies is the third book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. I really wouldn’t recommend leaving big gaps between reading the books in this series. I read the first book in 2014 and the second book, Hunger, in 2015, so it’s been three years since I read it. There are so many characters and their individual storylines and arcs to keep track of, that it was hard to dip back in after so long away from the series. I read a summary of the first two books online which was helpful, but not quite the same as when you can remember more of the detail. So if you read this series, don’t leave it too long between reading each book like I have!

This is one of the grimmest YA series I have read. It really proves YA isn’t just about clichés and love triangles. It can be gritty, dark and meaningful. It’s so interesting watching how things play out in the FAYZ over the course of the series (it really is like a modern Lord of the Flies, with superpowers). It digs deep into how people would react in that kind of situation, how desperate they could become, and how ‘normal’ just collapses and becomes something totally different, something that’s more about survival than living. In this book, Astrid is still trying to get rules and laws into place to give the FAYZ more order, so life isn’t just about survival.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Could Re-Read Forever

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Now this isn’t just a list of my favourite books. Some books you just can’t keep re-reading as it isn’t the same. I don’t often re-read books actually as there are so many new ones out there that I want to read! So here are some either I have re-read before or want to in future.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of 2017

2017 has been an odd year for books for me. I haven’t actually read many I’ve loved. During my degree I spent so much time reading the literature on the course that I haven’t had much opportunity in the last three years to read books of my choosing. Saying that, a couple of the books on this list I read as part of research for my degree, so it did bring me to some books I’ve loved. These are my favourite books from this year. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.

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1) Replica by Lauren Oliver

This was the first book I read in 2017 and has remained one of my favourites. The format of it, with the two stories in one, was a really interesting way to tell the story but also so much more than just a gimmick. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book – Ringer – which came out a couple of months ago.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books You’re Thankful For

This topic is pretty open for interpretation, and my list incorporates a variety of reasons to be thankful for. There are so many books that could be included on this list, but I’ve listed the ones that came to me first, that were my instinctive choices. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.

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The Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

This book series really increased my love of fantasy even more, and provided one of the biggest inspirations and fuels for my forays into fantasy writing. I loved the world and the characters (and of course – dragons). I just fell in love with the story and characters. It’s been a while since they read them actually so I really ought to re-read them and remind myself why I love fantasy so much.

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Accessible Classics

If you want to get into the classics but you go into a bookshop and are horrified by the thought of attempting to get into Dickens or War and Peace, these are some good books to start with. There are plenty of classics that aren’t too daunting, but here are a few suggestions from a mixture of time periods and genres.

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 ‘Older’ Classics:

Jane Austen – This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like a good period drama, it might be worth giving an Austen novel a go. Pride and Prejudice is probably the most famous, but there are also Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park.

Around the World in Eighty Days – Don’t go into it expecting it to be like the Jackie Chan film which, while keeping the basic plot, embellished it rather dramatically.

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Gothic Fiction:

Frankenstein – The ‘myth’ of Frankenstein’s monster has changed and developed so much over the years that most people don’t know the original story. It is a surprisingly easy read.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – I didn’t realise how short this is before I purchased it, at around 70 pages.

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20th Century Classics:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – You may have read this as a child, but if you haven’t it isn’t too late to delve into the imaginative and quirky world of Lewis Carrol.

The Bell Jar – Probably the most famous novel on depression and an incredibly important book in the history of mental illness in literature.

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Detective Fiction:

Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes is the most famous detective around. Doyle wrote four novels and many short stories centred on the famous detective. These books are very easy to read and the mystery keeps you hooked. The published order of his novels are: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear.

Agatha Christie – Some of the best are considered The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and The ABC Murders, but there are plenty of them to choose from.

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Science Fiction:

Fahrenheit 451 – This novel imagines a world in which books are burnt and although not as well-known as 1984, is a captivating and thought-provoking read.

Animal Farm – A political and satirical novella, this is a must read if you are interested in the classic science fiction genre.

(other science-fiction choices: 1984, Brave New World, Flowers for Algernon)

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia/Utopia

Publishing Info: Kindle Edition, May 17th 2016 by HarperCollins (first published 2011)

Pages: 401

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I cannot deny that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. A lot of YA dystopia has left me disappointed, so I’m reluctant to have too high hopes when reading this genre which I love so much. I’d heard of Delirium, but never got round to reading it until now. One of the things that cheeses me off most about YA dystopia is romance. Romance often seems to take up so much plot of some YA dystopia novels, leaving the important stuff or action in the background. Romance can be great in any novel, but when it takes over and blots out everything else, that’s what annoys me. Or the genre is plagued by love-triangles, insta-love, unlikeable/unbelievable love interests and unbelievable romance. So I was definitely a little wary when I started Delirium.

The whole point of the world Lauren Oliver has created about love so, considering the above, it would seem this is perhaps not the book for me. But that wasn’t the case. I think why the romance wasn’t annoying in this book is because it was actually totally relevant to the plot. It wasn’t thrown in. It is an important element of the world building and essential tool to explore the nature of the presented society. Love is seen as a disease which can be cured. This is actually quite an interesting concept and quite believable, in the way love is presented as something which causes you pain, and that you’ll be happier without it. I found myself completely intrigued by this dystopian/false utopian world.

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Film Review: Allegiant

Film Review: Allegiant (Divergent Series #3)

Release date: 10th March 2016

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz

Runtime: 121 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Allegiant is the third film in the Divergent series. Allegiant is the third and final book in the series put as per the popular move at the moment it is being split into two films, the first titled Allegiant and the second titled Ascendant (slightly different to calling them Part One and Part Two I suppose). At the end of the previous film the people of Chicago received a message from the outside world inviting them to go beyond the wall. Former leader of the Factionless Evelyn has essentially taken over and stops people from going over the wall. Tris, Four, Christina, Peter, Caleb and Tori get past Evelyn’s defences and go over the wall to find what is left of the rest of the world.

The book was undoubtedly my least favourite in the series. I felt it went massively downhill in quality from the first two books and was quite disappointed by it. So, unusually, I was happy for them to make changes to the film in the hopes of making it better. The film was fairly similar to the book, though with some changes obviously.

One of the best aspects of the film was the set designs. The design of the future world outside the wall was amazing and really imaginative. Unfortunately though it felt like a step down from the previous film, which itself wasn’t quite as good as the first film. I can’t quite place my finger on why it wasn’t as good. Perhaps it was the acting that wasn’t quite as sharp in this one. And obviously they had a flawed novel to work from, although I think they took a lot of the better aspects from the book to use in the film.

My confusion lies in where they are going with the fourth film, Ascendant. The third film was pretty similar to the book in terms of the plot arc, concluding in a kind of similar yet also different way to the book. So I’m not entirely sure where they are going with the fourth film. It will have to contain new material, as they have used up almost all of the book.

Overall I enjoyed the film but it wasn’t spectacular. It could have been better and although I really liked some of the things they added I felt they also left some important ideas out. I’m most intrigued to see what they will do with the last film, and to look back on this film once the last film has been released in terms of their adaption of the final book in the series.