Category Archives: Book

Reading Goal Update

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This is a goal update, a bit like a 6-monthly check in to see that I’ve been getting on ok. And as far as reading is concerned, I have been incredibly successful for the most part.

I have surpassed my Goodreads Reading Goal of 40 books. I’m currently at 50, but I am quite close to the end of the book I’m currently reading. I have an idea of how it snuck up on me, I’ve read a wide variety of materials including graphic novels, comics, and a manga [my first one ever]. I know the pictures says 51 but that includes the failed attempt at Dirk Gently that we won’t talk about again.

Look at that number!

Look at that number!

If you’re interested in a list of exactly all the things that I’ve read, with links to reviews I may have written, then that follows… if not, you’ve had a short visit today haven’t you!

  1. The Singing by Alison Croggon
  2. The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriquez
  3. Gotham City Sirens #1
  4. Gotham City Sirens #2
  5. The Little Android by Marissa Meyer
  6. World War Z by Max Brooks
  7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  8. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  10. Ms. Marvel #1
  11. Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood
  12. Feed by Mira Grant
  13. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  14. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  15. Raven’s Gate (Graphic Novel) by Anthony Horowitz
  16. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  17. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  18. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  19. Howl’s Moving Castle
  20. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  21. The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke
  22. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  23. Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones
  24. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  25. Every Year by Cecelia Ahern
  26. Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
  27. The Saturday Super Club by Amy Bratley
  28. Sunshine with a Chance of Snow by Carole Matthews
  29. Leftovers by Stella Newman
  30. Adventure Time Vol. 1
  31. A Game of Thrones by GRRM
  32. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  33. Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer
  34. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  35. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  36. Marvel Girl #1
  37. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  38. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simision
  39. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  40. The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore
  41. The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
  42. The Last Days of Lorien by Pittacus Lore
  43. The Forgotten Ones by Pittacus Lore
  44. The Search for Sam by Pittacus Lore
  45. Black Widow and the Marvel Girls Vol. 1
  46. Free Four: Tobias Tells the Knife Scene by Veronica Roth
  47. Domino 1-4
  48. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
  49. Pretties by Scott Westerfield
  50. Attack on Titan Vol. 1

-girlinthenerdshop

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Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Such pretty cover!

Such pretty cover!

Can I just start with the cover, look how pretty that is!

I have to admit that I am a bit of a fangirl when it comes to this series of books, I absolutely adore them. This series started with Cinder over 3 years ago, I was hooked as soon as I stumbled upon them. I didn’t expect it to happen, I was reluctant to read it as I didn’t want all the sci-fi elements to ruin a perfectly good fairy tale. It took a story that I knew and loved and made it new, and exciting, with androids and a threat from the moon!

Cress is the third book in this saga, a sci-fi retelling of Rapunzel. I mean that in it’s loosest sense. The main character in this story is Cress, who is locked inside a satellite isolated in orbit, she gets visited sporadically by one of the Queen’s thaumaturges who never brings anything sharp with them, so her hair has been left to grow and grow.

I really like the fact that she was set into orbit to observe the Earth for the Lunar Queen and ended up falling in love with what she surveyed, at heart she was a romantic, and saved from a terrible fate to be put into a worse position. She made the most of what she had.

Everything written about her hair was fantastic, how she ended up tangled in it when she was working and moving around. It really reminded me of the film Tangled… when you see her singing and dancing around the tower and she leaves a trail of hair everywhere.

Cress is my favourite character so far in this series, and her infatuation / growing love for Captain Thorne just made my heart melt. Thorne, normally so charming and able really comes to rely on the awkward space girl, and slowly their relationship grows and changes. He’s a charmer, but you can see the shifts in him. I ship them… so hard.

Cinder’s inner conflict is really well developed here, she doesn’t want to be like the Queen, or like the Lunars she was taught to despise, but she is one, and she uses her gifts sporadically, and only when she really has to. Everytime she does, you can feel what she does, a terrible situation to have to be in, but she ultimately has to do the right thing to save the Earth that she loves, and savee Luna from tyranny.

I loved the introduction of Princess Winter for the final book [why do I have to wait nearly a year?!]. She seems like such an odd contrast to her step mother, but however weird she seems, it’s because she too wants to be good and help the people and not manipulate them in the Lunar tradition. It’s all to her own detriment, not using her ‘gifts’ is sending her a little loopy, and Scarlet is locked in a cage as a pet – another element of drama. We need her Wolf to come and save her, the sooner the better!

Just stop what you are doing right now, and go find a copy of Cinder and Scarlet and Cress. You will thank me later, I’m hoping.

Do it for me?

– girlinthenerdshop

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have read a whole ton of books lately. It’s pretty good to be catching up with my iggle book club choices, and getting through the massive backlog of paperbacks I have scattered about the house. I’m at 18 out of 31 in my GoodReads challenge so far. And it’s only March!

DIVERGENT_B_Format_UK.indd

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

 

This one was another quick read for me, it only took a couple of days. YA fiction has that effect on me, big font and simple, easy to devour story.

As is custom, I will start with the issues I had, I really didn’t like that the factionless were made out to be crazy homeless people, and that the evil lady wanted to get rid of them… they are a perfectly good workforce that she could utilise for cheap labour, and they already make parts of the city run by building and driving things. It just didn’t make that much sense to eradicate them.

I’m not entirely convinced by the learning to fight like a badass in just over a week. Muscles and co-ordination take a bit longer to develop than that. Especially if you come from a background without much physical activity and no previous experience in jumping on and off trains and the like. There also seemed to be a whole lot of violence for the sake of violence, the eye stab felt a bit over the top aswell. I know that Roth was just trying to show how hard it is in there, and how ruthless they all are.

My biggest issue was that of divergence. So our main character Tris is Divergent. So her brain can function in several ways, or she’s got a more open mind or whatever it is we’re told. If they don’t like this trait as a society, then why are the teenagers allowed to choose what faction they join… if they leave one and go to another faction, then  surely that leaves them open to learning a new way of thinking. As all the transfer initiates we come across still show many tendencies from their old factions. I imagine that we get more details on that as the story develops in the next couple of books. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Let’s skip to the good bit. I liked the different faction thing [even if I had issues with it too]. It was cool to see sides to the city, and how the different groups were founded because of the different responses to war and what caused it. Each faction had a different purpose which was cool, but how many super clever people does one person need?

Tris was a really well written character, she is a teenager, and as a rule teenagers are selfish and they don’t know what they want. Tris has a whole bunch of issues to get over, like leaving her family and being special and what not, and hiding the truth. She is also very cruel, which is an interesting streak to see in a leading role.

I think the highlight for me in this book was the developing romance between Four and Tris. It was awkward, and confusing for both of them. It built up so slowly so it made it feel more realistic to me. Especially having them both be nervous around each other when they were alone together, and in public not being able to do anything about it. I enjoyed it, and I was glad that they both made it to the end of the book. I hope nothing happens to Four in the next book, I’d like to keep him whole if I can.

What can I say, I really enjoyed it. I give it 4 stars, and I will most likely be carrying on with the series [and dragging Alex to see the movie when it comes out later this year!]

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The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

 

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

In this fable, the first man on earth to count the hours becomes Father Time. The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world–now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began–and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

 

This was a really short book, so it’s gonna be a really short review.

I’m not sure that I liked the writing style in this book. The bold heading followed by a short paragraph made it really easy to read but for the most part it made me notice that it was a book, if that makes sense. It really drew attention to the page, so that it was obvious it was printed, so it was harder to lose myself in the story.

I found the whole premise of the book a bit preachy, that we need to stop worrying about time, and focus on the here and now. It was a good message to take away, but it was a bit too heavy handed for my liking.

What I liked about this was that it was such a quick read. I finished it within a couple of hours. The cast of characters is quite small, so you get to spend a lot of time with each one to see how they tick. The book focuses around 3 lives, all of which seem completely separate for the most part, but each character learns something from the others when they come to be linked together at the end. I never knew that just one word could make me feel such overwhelming relief… “Grace” if you read the book, I’m hoping that it has the same effect on you!

Even though I found the message being sledgehammered into me, I did really enjoy the book. I give it 4 stars.

-girlinthenerdshop

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. I did have some issues with the book as a whole. The main thing was the photographs interspersed throughout the book. The photos that were relevant to the story did add something, as its always nice to have a visual to support what you are reading. Several of the pictures didn’t add anything at all to the plot though… like the creepy picture of the twins in masks. They were not actually mentioned in the book as characters, like some of the other characters are, but just mentioned as photos found in the orphanage. I found the book hard to really get into, the pictures were a little off putting for me, and interrupted the flow of novel.

It felt like the genre changed part way through. It started off with a really strong horror / creepy storyline going on. About a third of the way through it took a step away from this and slipped into a sort of action thing.

The last main thing that annoyed me was the Emma / Jacob love interest. It felt forced to me, and I’m not sure the book needed it. Especially because of the technical age difference and Emma’s former love interest. Nope… not a fan.

I loved the time loop thing, the idea of having a safe refuge within a day isolated from the rest of time passing. The Peculiars needed to be protected, and hiding out of time is the perfect refuge for them. They experience time passing, whilst the day they live in resets and none of the normal inhabitants are any the wiser.

My favourite character Millard spent years [of his time] documenting the events of September 3rd from the points of view of each inhabitant of the island, including the pigs! What else would an invisible boy do.

Jacob was mostly believable as a modern day kid trying to find his place in the world. He doesn’t know what to believe, and after being told that he is crazy and seeing a psychiatrist he still doesn’t know what he should believe. The stories that his grandfather told him seemed so real to him as a boy, and then less believable as he grew up. He spends a lot of this book trying to reconcile the truth with his reality, and it takes him a long time to feel that he fits in somewhere.

It had its flaws, but once this book got going it was quite pleasant and easy to read. It only took a couple of days to get through. I’m having trouble deciding if I will read the next instalment in this series. I do want to know how several things get resolved, but at the same time, if it is a novel interspersed with pictures then I’m not sure I want to.

3 stars

-girlinthenerdshop

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Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Uglies

Uglies

 

This is the 14th book I have read so far this year… pretty good going I’d say.

This book came across as an incredibly critical social commentary. The basis of this story universe is that upon reaching the ripe old age of 16, you undergo SERIOUS cosmetic surgery to make you into a ‘pretty’. And they don’t just mean pinning your ears back and smoothing the skin. They mean, full on body reconstruction… making you the perfect height, changing your bone structure and making you perfectly symmetrical. They do this because back the barbaric olden days, people went to war over differences in skin colour, and taller people more often got the better jobs. In this place though, no discrimination , because everyone is a pretty. Sounds like a lovely idea.

There is a lot of scene setting done here which helps to build the world in your mind. I liked how advanced the technology was, and hover boards seemed superbly clever. The information system being linked to you is a bit Big Brother-esque, but it means everyone is kept in line, following the process of being an ugly before they get the operation.

The contrasts between city / Smoke are interesting. People in the Smoke take care of their possessions, and everything means something. Expensive city things [like dehydrated food and sleeping bags] are hard to come by, so they are treasured and everything is repaired where it can be. This is not the case in the city. Every room has an interface screen that can produce pretty much anything on demand. Trinkets, clothing, food and entertainment are all there in the blink of an eye. Tally finds this unusual, but it makes her start to value things in a way she never has before. Initially she was reluctant to leave the city, but the longer she spends there, the more she comes to like it… but drama happens as is needed in novels for there to be a story, and the potential of sequels [there are at least 3 more books so far in this series]. Things can never just go to plan can they. And we are left with Tally giving herself up to the authorities to help her friends… which I assume means in the next book if she is still there, she will have had her operation even if it was the last thing she wanted.

The pacing was a little weird, it felt off to me. That a lot of paper was dedicated to the time after Shay ran away, and the endless, lonely waiting that Tally had to endure; but her journey to the Smoke, we lose four days in one sentence.

It took me a long while to get into this book, mainly because of the main characters desperate desire to be a pretty so she could go and be with her friends. Pretties were portrayed as vacant party sheep, which I guess is a stage they need to pass through, enjoying themselves for the first time in such a decadent manner before they settle down and choose jobs and become middle pretties [after the second operation, natch] Once I got into though, I sped through it, devouring every detail about the differences between the town people and the out of town people. The horror Tally shows when she sees the people in the Smoke burning trees is novel, as they only use wind power in this fictional future.

I give 3.5 stars… and I’m very tempted to get the next book to see what happens.

– girlinthenerdshop

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Feed by Mira Grant

 

 

Feed by Mira Grant

Feed by Mira Grant

Half the time when sitting down to write book reviews, and I look at my notes and think to myself… “but what quote backs up my feelings on that point?”. Obviously I’m too well trained as an academic, and my brain still thinks it needs to write essays properly. This is not the case! So I can say I liked an element of this book, and I can talk about why if I feel like it, but this is my book talk and I’ll not quote anything! Mainly because I took the book back to the library when the books I’d reserved came in.

Feed is set in a post zombie apocalypse world; it must be a phase I’m going through. I’m not normally a massive fan of zombie stuff. Zombies still exist, and it’s a disease zombie. Everybody has dormant cells in their body that make them reanimate upon natural death, turning them into flesh craving shamblers.

There is a lot in this book about the social aspects of surviving alongside zombies. Everywhere you go there are extensive security checks, meaning everybody is used to constantly having their blood taken and waiting for the green light before they are allowed to proceed into restaurants, conference centres, even their own homes on return. The majority of  the population has retreated indoors and is reluctant to venture out because of the dangers. Whilst the initial outbreaks were occurring the TV journalists were trying to explain the events away and cover up the bad stuff. However, as is normal with these things, the internet comes to the aid of the people and now most news is consumed in the form of blogs. Internet journalists tried to tell the truth when it was a less respected medium, and now they are king of the heap.

Feed follows a brother and sister team on their journey to follow the political campaign of one of the senators running to be president. So there’s a lot of travelling and precautions to be taken, and you get to see heck of a lot of action on the road and in the conference stops along the way.

Then CONSPIRACY! What would a political zombie novel be without a large dose of conspiracy. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting it. I probably should have been. I got too wrapped up in the setting, and Georgia was a very strong character. She ran the show at End of Times, and she did her job well. The news reports interspersed with the story helped you get a better feel of the character style. Georgia was a news reporter, she dealt in facts, and stuck to the events and knowledge. Her brother Shaun was a bit more adventurous, always the one willing to go out into a hazard zone and poke a zombie with a stick to get a boost to the ratings. We also can’t forget Buffy, the third main member of the team, head of the fictional department and technical support. All the glimpses into the xrazy amount of technology she had set up was fascinating, and it was all conceivable as more modern and tinier tech than we have today.

As siblings Georgia and Shaun are so close, they do everything together, and they work perfectly as a team… as events develop in this book, they really come to rely on each other as they are the only people they know they can both trust. It does make their job a lot harder, but they struggle on in the search of truth. They find it, but they have to pay the price. Clearing up a well funded government funded conspiracy is harder than you think. Events snowball, and escalate at a satisfying pace. So much happens and I don’t want to spoil it, I really think you should go find a copy of this and take the weekend away from the world to read it.

I didn’t realise that this was the first in a trilogy, I do kind of want to find out what happens next, but at the same time, I worry about the cast of characters and whether it will still keep me hooked after the changes to the line up. We shall see, if the library has them, then I will go for it… if not… I’m not going to lose sleep over it!

I liked it so much I gave it 5 stars on GoodReads and that does not happen very often!

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I (didn’t) read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

This week I attempted to read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams…

The book in question

The book in question

Woah, can I just say, this is the first book that I have been unable to finish in a long time. I’ve had books that I struggle with, but want to go back to later when I’m more in the mood for that genre, or determined to find out what happened.

So this strange phenomenon of getting over half way through and not really being bothered about what happens next… it’s a new one on me. I only forced myself to get so far as it was the only book I had with me at work last week.

My main issue was that I felt like all of the different story lines I was being forced to read through were all completely unrelated. And yes, I get that this is the point of the book. That Dirk Gently is going to miraculously come along and link everything together and save the day… but I found myself not caring. Also the fact that you have to get to half way through the book until Dirk is actually introduced as a character, he does have a little bit of foreshadowing in one of the early chapters, but this information isn’t explicitly given to you. How can you wait that long to bring him in? Even two thirds of the way through he has only had two moments in the spotlight, and he hadn’t even taken on the case [if there is one, which now I will never know]. There also seemed to be quite a lot of technical babble, both from MacDuff about his job, and several of the other characters. Verbose, that’s a very good word to use here. I felt that too many words were being used for my liking, and I like words. I love words, and the combination used to tell this story didn’t work for me at all.

It’s a frustrating feeling, knowing that I will never find out how the sofa came to be impossibly stuck half way up that staircase, but it must be significant if it came up so many times. It may even be the whole point of the story.

All I can say is I gave it a good whirl. I liked Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, so I wanted to give Douglas Adams’ other book series a try.

Taking this book out of my currently-reading shelf on GoodReads marked it as read for some reason, so I’m upping my challenge to 31 books to compensate for this.

So that’s what I just read… or tried to.

–          girl in the nerd shop

I Read: Redshirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirts

The name gives away quite a lot of the ideas behind this book, if you’re familiar with Star Trek in any way then you can imagine what happens to the characters in the red shirts. The Dub U ship Intrepid has the highest death rate among low ranking officers. It’s so bad on the ship that the crew will go to any lengths to avoid going on any away missions with 5 of the top ranking officers, as they tend to be the only ones that survive. That’s normal isn’t it?

This book, it just made me smile all the way through, it’s a parody. The lengths they go to, to work out how to save the crew is mind twistingly wonderful. They have to use what they have to their own advantage, namely kidnapping one of the high ranking officers and time travel and nonsense science. You name it, cheesy sci-fi science it happens. The mysterious, dramatic answer box, the narrator, Borgovian Land Worms, exciting things in store.

I like the appendices at the end that tie up some loose ends, answer some questions and still manage to make you laugh.

*Spoilers*

Well, this book was a journey and a half. A book about characters in a TV show, who work out they’re part of a TV show, then a book and what? My brain hurts just thinking about it. Either way, it was a really fun easy read, which is just what I needed.

I Read: World War Z

In January the IGGPPC bookclub read World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z

World War Z

Typically I don’t like zombies, but a lot of the reviews on Goodreads said to give it a chance anyway. I was pleasantly surprised.

I honestly thought that I would find it hard to get invested in the book as it didn’t have a main character in the traditional sense. Normally I need at least one character that I can get behind to get me involved with a story. And the unusual, interview format of this book worked for me. Maybe because the main character could be anybody, as everybody in the whole world was part of the struggle to survive the Zombie War.

The pieces of the story were dished out in a way that built the story in small blocks, so you were looking in from the outside. The different characters gave varied views on the war, and you got to hear from civilians, to infantry soldiers in the army, to the people making decisions at the top of the command chain, from people all over the world. It really did feel like a ‘Great Panic’ as nobody really knew what was going on, or if they did they were under orders to keep it quiet and not let on.

The final section ‘Goodbyes’ felt quite bittersweet. Surviving was portrayed as just as hard as what people went through during the zombie outbreak, as nothing would be the same for a very long time. The world changed a lot during the events of the book, and people had to band together to help each other out.

I’m glad I stuck it out and read it to the end, but there is no way that I’ll see the movie…