Archive for December, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Hello everyone!  I really hope you’ve all had a nice Christmas, I certainly have – lot of relaxing, eating, church, TV and a little bit of revision (I have January exams).  I haven’t had chance to read that much, but I am slowly plodding my way through Villette.  Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying it, but maybe not as much as I enjoyed Jane Eyre (I am not even half way though, so it could pick up).  I will do a yearly wrap-up early in January and discuss what my reading plans are over the coming month then.

I was at home for Christmas with my family and my grandparents came too, which was nice.  Singing in the church choir for the carol service on the 23rd and at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve along with playing the piano for a service on Christmas Eve as well was pretty tiring but worth it.  I got some very nice presents, my main one being my driving lessons still plus a pretty cool accordion!  Book-wise, I received The Hobbit & LOTR box-set which I am very much looking forward to reading for the first time! I hope you have all had as nice a Christmas as I have and let me know what bookish gifts you gave/received!

I really hope 2013 will be a good year for us all, full of happiness and reading, although it will have a lot to live up to for me: 2012 saw the amazing Olympics, lovely holidays to Vienna and Majorca plus my exam results which were pretty good haha!  I am going to Uganda in February (scary!) with my Dad and my sister, so that will definitely be a massive experience. Anyway, let me know your plans for 2013 – I would love to know what you’re planning to get up to and all of you enjoy New Year’s Eve!!

TRATEOTUTitle: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Author: Douglas Adams

Date Finished: 19/12/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

Again, just like the first book in this “trilogy of five”, The Hithchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this was technically a new read but not really a new story, as I have listened to (and loved) the radio series countless times.  This book did not disappoint either.

It was quite a strange experience reading this book, more so than book 1, because the story was pretty different to the radio series.  Essentially the main plots are the same, but I felt there was a lot more “fleshing-out” in the book compared to the radio series.  This is definitely not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong!

The plot in this book is quite hard to follow and still after having just read it and listened to the radio series before, I am not 100% sure of what happens when and why etc.  For this genre of book though, it honestly doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything!  And of course, this is also the beauty of re-reading – it gives me a good excuse to put these books on the re-read list very soon.

In terms of characters, this book doesn’t extend too much on who we’ve already met in the first book.  New characters include the elusive and obsessed Zarniwoop (always fun to say) and Roosta.  My particular favourite person in this book is the old man who ‘rules the universe’.  His attitude towards life reminds me slightly of quantum theory (starting to study in school) and never fails to make me laugh – “How can you tell that anything’s out there?  The door is closed!”.

I like the idea of ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ very much and I think I slightly prefer this book to the first book because it doesn’t have so much introducing – it is quite plot driven.  However, I am not too impressed by the puzzlement I feel sometimes during reading it!  You wouldn’t believe that it is only 200 pages long – I think this is why they make such good radio series; they are jam-packed with action.

I have decided to take a short break from the HHGTTG now – I think I will read books 3 and 4 (and maybe 5 if I feel like it) in a couple of months (ish), as I want to wait long enough for me to enjoy them lots but not so long that I’ve forgotten what happened in books 1+2!  Obviously, I am not going to be listening to the radio series during this time either – I currently listen to Bleak Expectations and Old Harry’s Game and I TOTALLY recommend Bleak Expectations – it is the funniest thing I have ever listened to!

HHGTTGTitle: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

Date Finished: 11/12/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

Well, this is technically a ‘new read’ but I have actually listened to all 5 radio series countless times; they are hysterically funny and I thought I needed to read the books as well.

Now I have to say (and this is a new feeling for me) I didn’t enjoy the book quite as much as the radio series but it was still great.  I think the main reason was just that obviously I had heard all the jokes before!

The plot in the HHGTTG is actually very clever and is one of the main reasons why I continue to enjoy the story.  The improbability drive and the whole story about Earth and the ultimate question etc is really great and also very entertaining.

The characters are brilliant as well – there seem to be just the right number of people to get to know.  Marvin makes us all laugh and Arthur and his bumbling often keeps us entertained as well.  I don’t particularly like Zaphod, but I was completely shocked when I read the book – I found out he is ‘Zaphod Beeblebrox’ NOT ‘Zaphod Beetlebrox’ like I had always assumed!  I think the characters in the radio series are perfectly cast but the film version (that my book is actually the ‘tie-in’ of) is really not that great.

I love the sciencey-but-made-up kind of attitude of the book – things are presented as though they could be true but of course they’re not, for example the Babel fish etc but you end up believing it all anyway.  This reminds me of series like Harry Potter where you seriously ask yourself ‘maybe it is all true….’

The settings and their descriptions are brilliantly done, I think – Adams doesn’t dwell on anything for too long (this is why the story makes such good radio episodes) and does enough to set the scene so you can picture it and then moves on.  I also love the way he interweaves entries in the Hitchhiker’s Guide as well; they are often very funny.

So yes, overall I love whole series and I am straight on reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe this evening.  I don’t know whether I will read all 5 books straight after each other – we will see how I’m feeling after book number 2.

Yes, I realise that it is already the 9th of December (how did this happen?!) but I have only just now had time to wrap up for November!  Of course, I am very busy at the moment and will only get busier, but nevertheless, I read 3 books in November.

Here’s what I read in November 2012:

E = mc² – David Bodanis

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Visible World – Mark Slouka

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is the same name number as I read in October.  It is a bit of a mix with a science book, an absolute favourite and a let down!  However, my target of at least one classic every month was not fulfilled in November.

Challenge Progress in November 2012:

The Classics Club :  8/60 books read  (None this month)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  4/6 books read  (None this month)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 6/15 (None this month)

Still need to read Middlemarch and Villette for The Victorian Challenge but I think Villette alone will be enough of a challenge!

Currently In Progress:

Currently in progress is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams, which technically I haven’t read before, but I have listened to all of the radio series countless times so it is kind of a re-read I guess. I also have lots of science magazines on the go.

December Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are Middlemarch still, Villette by Charlotte Brontë and The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.  I have already mentioned I am leaving Middlemarch until I can focus on it, but I do hope to get to Villette.  I did want to read Pride and Prejudice this Christmas as well…this may become an early January read.

Challenges:  If I do get round to Villette, it would both count towards all 3 challenges.  Pride and Prejudice would count towards two (not Victorian) and I hope to read at least one of these two books.

I am actually reading every day, but when you are busy it is hard to read more than a few pages – you don’t have time for more!  I am really hoping that I can do my usual balancing of revision and reading in the Christmas holidays this year, as I have exams (again) in January.

The Visible World – Mark Slouka

The Visible WorldTitle: The Visible World

Author: Mark Slouka

Date Finished: 30/11/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 2/5 – rather bad

Hello everyone, sorry I haven’t posted in ages!  Life has been crazily busy with concerts, schoolwork and lots more.  I have some good news – I passed my driving theory and am insured to practice in my mum’s car now, so that’s exciting.  I hope you are all well and keen to hear about what I have been reading!

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this book – it was all silly and dull!  It jumps around between a young man’s visit to his parents’ native Prague, after living in the USA all his life, this boy’s childhood and his mother’s long-ago love affair.  I thought it sounded like a pretty good story but nothing captured me whatsoever.

The plot was really dull and just didn’t interest me.  This is unusual for me, especially since I’ve started book blogging – I seem to enjoy everything I read!  But yeah, not this.  I don’t know if maybe I just couldn’t really get into the book because I was so busy and then didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t know what was going on?

The characters were also pretty boring and I really didn’t like the boy’s mother (I can’t remember their names!) at all.  Definitely no awards won here for characterisation.

I am going to finish this review now, as I don’t really have much more to say!  I don’t want to put any of you off reading this, as I may have just completely misunderstood the story and subsequently not liked anything – I even skim-read the last 50 pages or so! (Very very rare).  Hopefully my next book (The Hithchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) will be back to normal in terms of enjoyment!