Books

Talking about books (when I have time to read for fun)

READ THE WORLD – Russia: Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

It’s 2033, the world is ruined and humanity is almost extinct. Possibly the last of the worlds survivors live in Moscow’s Metro system. There they’re safe from radiation in the city above and societies have formed across the metro system and its many stations. Artyom lives in VDNKh, the north most inhabited station on its line, life there is good, until the station becomes endangered by outside forces. Artyom is given the task to traverse the complex metro system to search for help and to warn every one of the new threat bearing down on his native station, and the whole Metro.

Metro 2033 is an interesting story. It’s quite slow to start with as there is a lot of world-building to do. Each of the different train stations in the Metro have become their own mini society, some have become Communist, some are Fascist while many others have their own capitalist democracy. It’s interesting to see what life’s like underground and how it differs from station to station. It wasn’t till I was about halfway through the book and I felt that I had a fairly good understanding that the story picked up speed.

The whole book is quite exposition heavy really and in some ways, it reminded me of American Gods by Neil Gaiman – both are quite slow reads, with a lot of world-building and main characters who seem to go from A to B without being an active participant in the situations they’re in. That being said, I felt Artyom was a character who actually reacted to the mad and dangerous situations he found himself in and, as the story progressed, he became more proactive and confident in his decision making and abilities.

The people Artyom meets on his journey are all very different. My favourites were those who are old enough to remember life outside the Metro, and everyday normal life in the cities. There memories were often rose-tinted but it was good to see Artyom compare it to what he knows as he was only a toddler when everyone had to hide out in the tunnels. It was those moments where you really got the dystopian aspect of the novel.

Metro 2033 also has horror and sci-fi elements as there’s rumours of creatures who have been mutated by the radiation, lurking on the surface and readying themselves to enter the tunnels. There are some passages on Metro 2033 that are generally creepy and unsettling as Artyom traverses the dark tunnel between stations. There’s some eerie stuff in Metro 2033 but it doesn’t always pay off which is regrettable.

This is the first book in a trilogy and it does leave things on a cliff-hanger. Unfortunately, there was no real build up to the “big reveal” so instead of a plot twist you could’ve figured out yourself, it’s more of a huge surprise. I think I will pick up the rest of the series at some point as I’m intrigued to see what happens next but Metro 2033 didn’t pull me in enough from the start to make me super eager to continue. 3/5.

Ninja Book Box – A Grand Adventure Summer Reading Box

Last week my first ever order from Ninja Book Box arrived. Ninja Book Box is a UK-based quarterly subscription box that focusses on independently published books. The book featured each quarter are from a variety of genres and are not particularly YA focussed, so if you like the idea of a subscription box but aren’t a huge YA fan, then the Ninja Book Box might be for you.

At the moment, they have a special box for sale called A Grand Adventure Summer Reading Box which contains three books but none of the usual goodies you find in the usual subscription box – this is the box I got. I chose to get this box because while I like the goodies you get in subscription boxes, the main draw for me is the books. This is a cool one-off box and you can choose if you want adult books or kids’ books or a mixture of both – and you can stipulate the age range for the kids’ books.

So that’s what the Grand Adventure Summer Reading Box is so let me show you what was inside.

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REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

In her everyday life Eliza Mirk is shy, awkward and hates school, but in the online world she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of mega popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine ever enjoying the real world as much as the online one so she never really bothers to try. That is until Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction author, transfers to Eliza’s school and, believing Eliza is just another fan, he begins to draw her out of her shell. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally revealed everything in her life is thrown into turmoil, her relationship with Wallace, her art and even her sanity.

I loved this book. I’ve been wary of books about fandom because I’ve always kind of felt that the first rule of fandom, is that you don’t talk about fandom. But I’m so happy that Eliza and Her Monsters showed me that there can be great books about fandom that respects and understands it.

Eliza and Her Monsters is a mix-media novel, it includes panels from Monstrous Sea as well as emails, letters and instant messages. This, plus the fact the book is great, helps make Eliza and Her Monsters a really quick read. I loved how the extracts from Monstrous Sea often mirrored the situations Eliza found herself in, giving you an extra insight as to where her mind is at. The Monstrous Sea story was just as interesting as Eliza’s story and the book did a great job of explaining the plot of the webcomic enough that when characters discussed who their favourite characters were, you had a good idea who they were talking about.

Eliza’s two best friends are Max and Emmie and they’ve never met face to face. I love how Eliza and Her Monsters shows how people behind a computer screen can be, and often are, just as important a connection as those you see in the flesh. The three of them are all great friends who not only share the fandom stuff but their real-life events too. I also liked how Eliza realises and apologises when she does sometimes takes Max and Emmie for granted, she’s a flawed, ordinary person who mistakes and I loved reading about her.

I was on edge as the story progressed as I could tell that Eliza’s internet identity would come out and everything she had with Wallace would be put in jeopardy. I hate confrontation, both in real life and in fiction, and had grown so attached to Eliza that I didn’t want to see her hurt.

I loved Eliza and Her Monsters. I loved how various characters grew on me as the story progressed, how I could relate to Eliza but still get frustrated with her sometimes, the complexities of online and offline personas – it was all so great. Eliza and Her Monsters made me cry because it hit me right in the feels and that hasn’t happened with a book for a long time. 5/5.

May’s Illumicrate Box

My May Illumicrate Box arrived earlier this week while I was visiting a friend abroad so it was a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home.

Illumicrate is a quarterly YA box based in the UK. Unlike a lot of subscription boxes this one doesn’t really have a theme each quarter so it’s always a surprise to see what’s included. There was a lot of stuff in this month’s box.

There were two books included in this month’s box. There’s a signed copy of Truth or Dare by Non Pratt which sounds like a super interesting book. I believe it’s got the same story from two points of view so you read it like a normal book and then you flip it around and read the over characters side of the story. It’s all about friendship and internet fame which since I’ve read Eliza and Her Monsters I’m a lot more interested in. The other book was an advanced reader copy of The Waking Land by Callie Bates. It’s a fantasy story with magic and warring kingdoms and I think it’s released later this month. Book books came with a letter from the author and The Waking Land also came with a signed bookplate.

Now the goodies were pretty cool too. There’s a Feyre mug from Merwild, who I believe is a character from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series but I don’t really know I haven’t read those books, but I really like the design and you can never have too many mugs. There’s a Mermaid Lagoon Candle from Flickerink which has a really strong and sharp tropical scent – I love it but my mum’s not a fan so that’ll be one I use when she’s out.

There’s a very cute keyring from Nutmeg and Arlo which has the “Swish & Flick” quote from Harry Potter along with a wand – my house keys used to have a felt bird on them but that fell off a while ago so have been meaning to find a new keyring for them so this could well be the replacement. There’s some lovely Beauty and the Beast artwork and door hanger from TJ Lubrano which is so pretty. Though I’m always unsure as what to do with art prints.

Then there was a map bookmark from Penguin Co which is quite clever and sits on the corners of the page you’re up to, and then some extra goodies for Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles and The Gender Games by Juno Dawson. I am very tempted to put The Gender Games pin badge, which has the quote “Let the Gender Games Begin” on it, on my work lanyard just to see what the reaction may be – I work at an all-boys school so it could be interesting.

So that was all that was in this month’s Illumicrate box! It was definitely jampacked and I feel I will use most of the stuff featured. I think I’ll be reading Truth or Dare sooner rather than later and I am intrigued by The Waking Land.

Now my bank balance can take a break after I ordered three different bookish subscription boxes this month!

REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin travel through a “wrinkle in time” to find their missing father at the advice of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. But can they overcome the dangerous forces they meet on their journey through space and time?

A Wrinkle in Time is said to be a children’s classic but I’d never read it nor had never heard of it till all the talk about the film adaptation which is due to be released next year. It was the film and hearing about all the people cast in it, many of them are some of my favourite actors, that got me to pick up the book.

I like how A Wrinkle in Time combines science with fantasy and how it shows different planets and creatures through the eyes of a child. As both of Meg and Charles Wallace’s parents are scientists there’s a lot of talk about maths and fact and how people work things out. This was great to see in a children’s book as in some ways it made difficult topics like traveling through space accessible – and it’s always great to see a young female character interested in STEM subjects.

Meg is a great character. She’s about thirteen years old and sometimes gets overwhelmed by the situation she is in, missing her father and being flung into danger by three strange beings, but she uses her faults to overcome her fear. That’s the thing I really liked about Meg and this book, it took a character’s faults like stubbornness, fear and anger and made them a valuable part of the character. Yes, those traits are often seen as negative but they are a part of Meg just like her love and intelligence.

The thing that surprised me most about A Wrinkle in Time is how it shows that parents are fallible. There’s a childlike wonder throughout most of the books, even with the threat of danger present, that when Meg sees her parents as normal people for moment it’s a surprise. I think this theme is a great thing to include in a children’s book.

I liked A Wrinkle in Time well enough. It’s a quick read with likeable characters but as someone in their twenties, it’s not a book I loved. I can see why it’s become a much loved book for many but it does lack that emotional punch reading it for the first time as an adult. 3/5.

My EMOJIATHON TBR

I hadn’t heard about the Emojiathon till I saw Alyssa at PucksandPaperbacks post her TBR and it’s a super cool month long readathon. It’s hosted by DylanTheReader5, NayaReadsandSmiles and MickeyBetweenThePages and runs throughout June and there’s lots of different challenges for you to try and complete. You can find out more about the twitter sprints that are going to be held over the month on the @emojiathon Twitter account and here is a list of the challenges – the main goal is to complete four challenges but there’s no real limit.

Now, as I always say with my readathon TBR’s, I like to have some choice so I have tried to find a book for every challenge. So, without further ado here’s my TBR.

Read a book that was gifted to you: Filmish by Edward Ross
This was sent to me by Ellie for the last round of the NinjaBookSwap, it’s a graphic novel all about the history of film and I’ve been looking forward to reading it for ages.

Read a thriller or horror: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
This is a recent buy and sounds like a thriller with a missing child and the mother not knowing who to trust.

 

Read a futuristic/sci-fi book: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid and/or Saga Volume Six by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
I started The Diabolic at the end of last year and got half way through it, then put it down and never picked it up again. I can remember a lot about it so hopefully I’ll be able to start from where I left off. I love Saga so this should be no problem.

Read a book that takes place in a different country than your own: Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
I’ve borrowed this off a workmate to read for my Read the World Project as it is set in Russia – it’s supposed to be a proper page-turner.

Read a book you’re annoyed at yourself because you haven’t read it yet: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
I’ve heard such great things about this book and can’t believe I haven’t read it yet.

Read a book in under 24 hours: The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by Sybille Bedford
This little book is only 80 pages’ love so it’s definitely an easy one to read in a day.

Read a book about a current event: Nasty Women
This is a collection of essays I backed on Kickstarter. All the essays are about what it is like to be a woman in the 21st century.

Read a book about a marginalized group: Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
The main character in this book is intersex and I’ve never read a book about that before.

 

That’s my TBR! Let me know if you’re taking part in the Emojiathon, I think it’s a clever and different kind of readathon compared to the ones I’ve taken part in before

READ THE WORLD – El Salvador: Looking for Trouble by Roque Dalton

A collection of poems from Roque Dalton, a Salvadoran poet and revolutionary.

The thing I really liked about this collection of poetry was it had Dalton’s original work in Spanish side by side the English translation. It’s a great way to see the words that would’ve rhymed in Spanish and it’s nice that the original text isn’t forgotten. Also at the start of the collection there was a short biography of Dalton which was interesting and helped me understand where his poetry was coming from.

Each poem was very short, often no more than a page and many were only ten lines or so. This made them punchy, getting across the ideas and emotions in a concise way. His poems were often sarcastic which was an interesting yet strangely fun way for poems about love, death, revolution and politics to be. His sarcasm definitely shone through in his more political poems and I love sarcasm in writing.

My favourite poems in the collection were the political ones like “Poem XVI” and “My Military III the P.S. (Prodigal Sons)” Thanks to the biography at the start of the book you have a rough idea of the political turmoil going on in El Salvador at the time of his writings, with the ideas of a revolution being rife in the country after the Cuban Revolution in the 1950’s. One of the poems I liked a lot because it made me think and put a wry smile on my face was “Miscellaneous” – this one is about socialism and imperialism and how the two could attempt to shape El Salvador. My other favourite was “On Headaches” which is about the pain different movements cause while Communism is like “an aspirin the size of the sun.” It was an amusing look at different political ideologies and a great insight into the mind of a revolutionary.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read poetry for fun – I think having to learn everything about Seamus Heaney and Caroline Duffy’s work for my GCSE’s kind of put me off poetry as a whole genre for a while – but I found Dalton’s work really accessible. It’s a quick read and reading his poetry was an interesting snapshot into a country’s history. I think I might look for more poetry collections as I continue to attempt to read the world!