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10 Novels I Own As eBooks That I Wish I Owned As Physical Books

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Ebook vs BookThere is no denying that eReaders are super convenient. Not only do they take up zero space in the house, but they are also easy to access and generally fairly quick to purchase and download. But reading them in the bath is hazardous, they don’t feel as good in one’s hands, and they don’t smell good. And you can’t see them strewn about the house in all their bookish glory; little piles of lives captured in paper and ink. I also recently discovered reading an eBook on an iPad can be more painful to the face when you fall asleep while reading.

This makes me especially sad when I buy a book as an eBook and love it so much that I wish I bought it as a physical book, just so I can touch it and flick open to my favourite page whenever I want, and underline things and just generally love it. I’ve got a few books I have this problem with, and one day when I have a house with a room as big as a house to house all my books (did you catch all that?), maybe I’ll go buy them in paper. But for now I’ll just have to content myself with cold glass and metal.

Bereft_B_format_LR10. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I don’t read a lot of books I would describe as scary, but this one really freaked me out. I want to own a copy just so I can read it and put it in the freezer when it scares me, like Joey does on ‘Friends’ when he reads The Shining and Little Women. Also, Daniel Radcliffe is excellent in the film adaptation of this novel. If you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, the endings are different so you should read the book and it’ll be a surprise for you!

9. Bereft by Chris Womersley. This is set in Australia after WWI and centres around a character who has returned from the war, but who can’t go home because of an incident that occurred before he left for the war – and was the reason for him leaving in the first place. My favourite thing about this book is the vividly written imagery of country NSW. Originally coming from the middle of nowhere myself, I love reading books that evoke the smells and sights of outback Australia – it’s just as beautiful in real life as it is in this book. If you like Peter Carey and Tim Winton, you’ll probably like this one too.

SquirrelSeeksChipmunk8. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this one is amazing! It traces the history of an illuminated Hebrew manuscript beginning in Spain prior to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, all the way through Europe and two world wars, right up to the Bosnian War in the early 1990’s. The historical detail is amazing, the characters throughout are intriguing, and it certainly made me appreciate how lucky we are to have so many books from medieval times and earlier still around today, despite the fragility of them.

7. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. It’s hilarious, it’s heartfelt, and not as cute and fluffy as the title would have you believe. As an example, here’s my favourite quote: ‘The chipmunk lay awake that night, imagining the unpleasantness that was bound to take place the following morning. What if jazz was squirrel slang for something terrible, like anal intercourse? “Oh, I like it too,” she’d said – and so eagerly!’

sisters-brothers6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. This one is dark, slightly comical, and also a gun slinging western. How could it possibly be bad? It’s sort of like True Grit by Charles Portis, but a bit more gruesome, and the gunslingers in this novel are a far cry from Rooster Cogburn – they are far more morally ambiguous. Also, the cover of this book is one of my favourites ever.

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. No real reason for this other than when I cry while reading this, tear soaked pages are much more romantic than drops of salty water on a glass screen. This book is amazing and should be read by everyone.

4. The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. This is another journey through history, this time completely real and rather than a book, we join Edmund de Waal as he traces the history of a cabinet of Japanese netsuke that has been in his family for over 100 years. As we follow the journey of the netsuke through time, so do we learn the about de Waal’s ancestors – the Ephrussi family – their rise and to power, and eventually their demise at the hands of the Nazi’s. One the most engaging histories I’ve read in the last few years.

A Simpler time3. A Simpler Time by Peter FitzSimons. Mr FitzSimons is probably my favourite Australian author. He writes biographies and writes them really well. He’s a very conversational writer and his books are always well researched, full of detail, and completely honest. A Simpler Time is a bit different though as it’s his own memoirs, starting from when he was a very small child living not too far away from where I live now actually. As with his biographies of other people, it’s honest and emotive and just made me love him even more.

2. Mawson And the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen by Peter FitzSimons. This is one of those amazing biographies I mentioned just above, and the one that kick-started my love affair with the history of Antarctic exploration and the incredible men who explored it. Sir Douglas Mawson is perhaps one of the lesser known of these explorers, but his achievements are no less important. He was amongst the group of men who were first to reach the Magnetic South Pole and made significant contributions to geological science due to his research undertaken in Antarctica, earning himself a knighthood in the process and even gracing one side of the Australian $100 bill for a while (why he was replaced I’ll never understand – not that I’m in the habit of possessing $100 notes anyway).

1. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. This is probably the only book I ever recommend to people on the rare occasion people ask me for book recommendations. But my recommendation always comes with a disclaimer, “but don’t just read it now because I told you to – you have to read it when you’re ready”. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to who has read this book has taken some kind of message away from it that is completely relevant to the point they are at in their life, and no two messages have been the same. That’s why you just have to pick it up when the mood takes you, not because I tell you to. You’ll read it when the time is just right and that’s when it will be the most special for you.TheAlchemist

Do you have any eBooks you wish you’d bought as physical books? Do you even like eBooks? 

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Book Review – ‘Liar’s Bench’

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22715912Title: Liar’s BenchNetgalleyBadge
Author: Kim Michele Richardson
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Release date: April 28, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Set in a small town in Kentucky in the 1970’s, at it’s core Liar’s Bench is a coming of age story, set against a backdrop of racial injustice. We first meet Mudas ‘Muddy’ Summers on her 17th birthday, and at a crucial time in her life. She’s in her final year of high school and on the cusp of adulthood, and she also thinks she might be in love for the first time – a confusing time for anyone. On this day, her mother has been found hung to death, however it is uncertain whether it was by her own hand, or that of her abusive husband – the stepfather who to Mudas, was nothing more than her mother’s husband. Refusing to believe that her mother would take her own life, Mudas sets out to uncover the truth of her mother’s death, in doing so uncovering secrets and lies that have stayed buried deep within the town for over a century; lies that began with the hanging of a slave, and the building of a seat from the gallows.

Really I could sum up my thoughts on this novel with one tweet:

But for the sake of posterity, I will attempt to articulate “the feels”. At the forefront was the almost heartbreak I felt as Mudas came to terms with her mother’s death. I think happiness and joy are spoken about so openly that they are easier feelings to write about in novels. But grief is more inward – when someone’s happy you can see it; when they are sad, they try to hide it. I was chatting with a fellow blogger recently about sadness in writing, and I mentioned that often the most grief stricken moments in novels are more beautiful to me than the happiest ones – when written well, it can show more about a character than happiness can. So as horrible as I may sound, Mudas’ pain over the death of her mother was probably the stand out moment for me in the book – the pain was real, and it was how I know I would feel if I was in that position.

But this sadness was balanced out beautifully with real moments of happiness. Of particular note was those moments throughout in which Mudas reminisced on her childhood, especially conversations she’d had with her grandmother. I think her grandmother was probably my favourite character. She didn’t make a lot of appearances, but each one was special and touching. When set in contrast with the loss of Mudas’ mother, this nostalgia for childhood served as a stark reminder of how we all wake up one day and have, without even realising it, moved from childhood to adulthood – sometimes when we are completely unprepared for it and when we least want it.

Another thing that struck me was the overall feel of the story, which I can only describe as ‘hot’. Along with the fact that the temperature of the Southern setting was physically hot, the racial tension running throughout added a different sort of heat. There was a steady build up of unease from the opening pages, which felt as though it could spill over into something much more physical at a moment’s notice. It is this sort of thing that not only keeps readers on edge, but also keeps them turning pages in anticipation. For me the mark of a good book is how difficult it is to put it down. If I had been physically able to sit and read the novel in it’s entirety in one day, I would have (but I didn’t because I have to pay the bills you guys). As it was, I read it pretty quickly anyway, that feeling of anticipation I mentioned making me basically inhale the words.

Long story short, Liar’s Bench sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, culminating in being completely devoid of just about anything as the novel reached its final chapters. Kim Michele Richardson’s 1970’s Kentucky felt entirely real, and the characters who inhabit it felt just as real. While it may have left me feeling like an emotional black hole, it also left me thinking about how even if we have a constant reminder of our past mistakes, we never really learn from them and will continue to repeat them in some way until the end of time.

Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Teaser Tuesday
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Teaser Tuesday – ‘The Wonder Lover’

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! All you have to do is grab the book you’re currently reading, open to a random page and share two sentences from that page. But make sure you don’t share any spoilers!

the-wonder-loverFirst of all, feast your eyes upon the glory of this cover. Does it not scream Don Draper? It’s so simple and understated, yet speaks volumes about the content of the novel.
The Wonder Lover isn’t yet available for purchase (it’s released on May 1st in Australia), but I was lucky enough to win a copy of it from Dymocks Books here in Australia, courtesy of the publishers Allen & Unwin (thanks you guys!). I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I’m already completely hooked.  I’ve not read any of Malcolm Knox’s novels before, but I have just been reading some of his articles in one of my university classes (a weird coincidence I thought). It’s pretty safe to say that I’ll be off to get some more of his books sometime in the future – I really enjoy his writing. 

I didn’t want to post any random sentences this week, just in case I spoilt the plot for myself (which is something I accidentally do, all the time). Instead I thought I’d share a passage that appears on one of the first few pages, that I really loved. I’ve also provided a link to the page of the publishers, on which you can find an excerpt of the novel through Google Preview – just click on the cover of The Wonder Lover over on the left, and it will take you to Allen & Unwin. And now, here is the passage I promised:

“Once, out walking at night on a steep rocky path, we complained that we could not see and asked him to carry us. Our father pointed at the moon and said, How far away? We trilled: Three-hundred-and-eighty-four-thousand, four-hundred kilometres. He nodded and said, If you can see that far, you can see the steps under your feet.”

What are you reading at the moment? Share some sentences in the comments section!

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Chewy gingersnaps - perfect with a cup of Earl Grey
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Book Review – ‘The Violet Bakery Cookbook’ by Claire Ptak

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TheVioletBakeryTitle: The Violet Bakery CookbookNetgalleyBadge
Author: Claire Ptak
Genre: Cooking
Rating: ★★★★★

I think my favourite thing about NetGalley is the wide variety of books to choose from and review. If you’ve seen some of my previous posts (like this one and this one), you would know that I quite enjoy baking (cooking in general actually), and the eating that results from said baking. So I was pretty excited when I saw that I could get advanced copies of cookbooks as well as novels. The first cookbook (hopefully of many) I’ve decided to review for NetGalley is Claire Ptak’s The Violet Bakery Cookbook. The bakery itself is located in London, and this book is a collection of recipes of food that is actually made and sold there.
I decided that in order to give the most honest review possible, I should pick some of the recipes and cook them myself. You know, just to make sure they were easy to follow and everything tasted alright (apologies for the terrible photos).

Overall this is probably one of the nicest cookbooks I’ve seen in a long time. Every single recipe has an accompanying photograph, which I especially loved – there’s nothing that irritates me more than cooking a recipe and not having any guidance as to what the final product should look like. I enjoyed reading the introduction as well, which runs through the Violet Bakery from it’s very beginning as a market stall, to finally becoming a business of a slightly larger scale.
I tried four recipes, which were as follows:

Chewy gingersnaps
 Raspberry and star anise crumble muffins
Lemon drizzle loaf
 Chocolate sunken soufflé cake

Of the four, I had success with three. The only one that didn’t work was the chocolate cake –  it came out more sunken than it should have and was basically a big fail. It was nothing to do with the recipe though, it was more a case of my own impatience. But I’ll be trying the recipe again as I can pinpoint exactly where I went wrong, and what I tasted of it was delicious. All of the recipes (even the one that didn’t work) were simple, easy to follow, and surprisingly quick to put together. The most time consuming were the muffins, but even those I had mixed together and in the oven in about half an hour (along with icing the lemon drizzle loaf at the same time).
The lemon drizzle loaf was definitely my favourite of the recipes I tried. I rarely have luck with cakes turning out (see above chocolate cake fail), so I was pleasantly surprised that this worked. I probably could have taken it out of the oven a little earlier as the outside was a bit crunchier than I’d have liked, but the inside was perfect. The sour of the lemon was balanced with just the right amount of sweet, and I LOVED the lemon icing – it tasted like sherbet.

If you enjoy baking, you should definitely consider getting yourself a copy of this book. There is such a wide range of recipes inside that I can guarantee you’ll find something you like. From toasted sandwiches, to biscuits, cakes, and ice creams, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and skill level. It’s safe to say I’ll definitely be visiting the bakery when I’m in London later this year – I’m sure I could sit in there all day.

Many thanks to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Books In My TBR I’m Excited To Read

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If you have read any of my posts in the last couple of months, or seen any of my tweets about it, you will know that my TBR pile of books (which sits on a side cupboard thingy) is actually a tower so high I can’t reach the top. I stacked them all on the floor the other night to see how high it was and it reaches my chin. Obviously I should not be allowed near any book stores for a year or so. Anyway, amongst all of these books are a select few that I’m a bit more excited to read than all the others, so I thought I’d share them with you all. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something new to read from my list.  I was going to do a top 10 thing, but I really can’t rank these, and there were only 7 books I was really excited about. So in no particular order, here are 7 books from my TBR tower that I’m really excited to read.

child-44Child 44 (plus sequels) by Tom Rob Smith. The only reason I heard of this book is because there’s a film adaptation being released this year starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman (who teamed up in one of my most favourite films, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and I thought I’d read the book before watching the film. Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, Child 44 follows a Russian secret policeman investigating a serial killer, who can continue to keep on killing because “the Soviet system cannot admit to having such capitalist social problems as murder or prostitution” (The Guardian, 2008). Yes it sounds gruesome and dark, but also an amazing premise – a crime that can’t be committed if the act is not classified as a crime.

TestamentofYouthTestament of Youth by Vera Brittain. I was lucky enough to win tickets to see a pre-screening of the film adaptation of this memoir, which details the life of Vera Brittain during WWI, and shows the profound loss experienced by so many during the course of the war. The film was amazing, but it left me feeling really empty (you should still watch it though if you like WWI flicks). Despite this emptiness, I made a beeline to the bookstore the next day to pick up a copy of the book and I will be purchasing a fresh box of tissues before I read, as I will no doubt need them.

narrowroadThe Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. The winner of last years Man Booker Prize, I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one – some have said it’s brilliant, and others have said that they didn’t enjoy the vivid description of the hardships suffered by the POW’s working on the Burma railway during WWII. I don’t really have an issue reading about war atrocities – I don’t enjoy it by any means, but I can recognise that these things happened and if an author is aiming to provide a true account of events, sometimes you need to make people squeamish.

StefanZweigThe Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig by Stefan Zweig (obviously). ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was probably my favourite film from last year. It wasn’t just because of the Wes Anderson whimsy or the brilliance of Ralph Fiennes, both of which are obviously crucial to the film. It was the story itself I fell in love with, and the characters who made their way through it. When I discovered it was based on the writing of Stefan Zweig, I immediately began trawling the interwebs for his books, and I found this collection of his short stories! While I know the screenplay from the film is probably somewhat different to Zweig’s work, I’m still ridiculously excited to read this book.

gallipoliGallipoli by Peter FitzSimons. Written by my favourite Aussie author, Gallipoli is an in depth look not just at the disaster that was the Gallipoli landing in WWI, but also what life was like in the trenches for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers, the majority of whom were not professional soldiers but were regular men who wanted to fight for their country and their mates. With the upcoming ANZAC Day marking 100 years since the Gallipoli landing, books like this one have never been more important in ensuring that the ANZAC legacy stays alive.

unbrokenUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This book was the basis for the Angeline Jolie directed film by the same name, and tells the incredible story of WWII hero Louis Zamperini – a former Olympic athlete who survived a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, drifted in a raft for 47 days, and was then held for two and a half years as a prisoner in a Japanese POW camp. If you haven’t watched the film, I highly recommend it (but take tissues).

invisible historyThe Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally. I can’t really describe this book very well, so here’s the Amazon blurb: “While some books explore our genetic inheritance and some popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to names and the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy. Kenneally shows how trust is inherited in Africa, how silence is passed down in Tasmania, and how the history of nations is written in our DNA. From fateful ancient encounters to modern mass migrations and medical diagnoses, Kenneally explains how the forces that shaped the history of the world ultimately shape each human who inhabits it.” Pretty cool in my opinion.

How about you? Do you have any books you’re particularly excited to read?

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Book Review – ‘In the Shadow of Winter’ by Lorna Gray

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TiAdobe Photoshop PDFtle: In the Shadow of WinterNetgalleyBadge
Author: Lorna Gray
Genre: Fiction (Historical/Women’s)
Release date: March 12, 2015 (e-book*)
Rating: ★★★★☆

You know that saying, ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’? Well if I’m really honest, the main reason I requested this book on NetGalley was because of the cover. Sure the blurb had something to do with it as well – but seriously, look at the cover. Luckily the content lived up to the aesthetic expectations. So much so that I finished this book in only a few hours, reading late into the night in the silence of my house (this is, in my opinion, the best way to read, especially when it’s cold and rainy).

On a harsh winter night in 1947, Eleanor Phillips rescues a man lost in the flurry of snow. At first she believes the almost dead man to be a stranger, but on closer inspection she realises it is Matthew Croft – a man from her past and a happier time before the world was turned upside down by the war. The mystery surrounding the appearance of Matthew deepens when news of a murder reaches Eleanor, and it is Matthew who is the number one suspect. Now harbouring a wanted man, Eleanor soon finds herself in the role of detective as she attempts to help Matthew uncover the truth about the murder, and before long feelings she thought long gone begin to resurface.

I’m a big fan of any book that can place me directly in the scene – it makes it easier for me to connect with the story. Although generally a solitary activity, I think reading is a very sensory one, and I find whenever I don’t like a book, it’s because I can’t engage – or at least imagine that I’m engaging – with all of my senses. In this book I was able to do just that. I could see the rolling hills of the Cotswolds where Eleanor lived, smell the stables in which she housed her horses, and feel the cold bite of the winter wind as Eleanor struggled against the winter storm.

There were also plenty of moments throughout that were suspenseful, and being able to imagine the scenes so vividly made them that much more suspenseful. There was one scene in particular that quite literally had me on the edge of my seat, and almost had me thinking the ending was not what I thought it was going to be. It was moments like these that kept me reading late into the night, and had the book moving along at a decent pace. I find sometimes when romance/mystery meet in a plot and the focus is mainly on the romance side of the story, that it slow things down a bit. But in this case there was a good balance struck between romance and murder mystery – I think those readers who have a preference for one of these genre’s over the other, would be happy with the balance.

But by far my most favourite aspect of this book, was the character of Eleanor. Strong willed and yet  incredibly awkward at times, Eleanor is an entirely relatable character. She often puts on a facade of having everything under control, when in reality she is uncertain of herself and her actions. As the novel is written in the first person perspective, we often get to see the rambling thoughts of Eleanor’s mind and because of this, when she was feeling awkward, I was feeling awkward for her. There were a couple of occasions where I was actually saying, “No! Why would you say that? Just stop talking”, and then I would shake my head, cringe, and cover my face with my iPad (which is nowhere near as effective at reducing the discomfort you feel for a character, as covering your face with an actual book).

All in all, this was an enjoyable read, evidenced by how quickly I devoured it. In the Shadow of Winter is Lorna Gray’s debut novel, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of her work. I am completely biased towards historical fiction – particularly that set in post-war England – so it’s no surprise I enjoyed this. Realistically though it could have gone the other way – I might have compared to similar books and found it wanting. Thankfully I didn’t and I now have another author to add to my ever growing list of excellent historical fiction writers!

Many thanks to HarperImpulse and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

*After investigating further, a paperback of this will be released in Australia on July. Hooray!

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Teaser Tuesday
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Teaser Tuesday – ‘Inheritance’

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! All you have to do is grab the book you’re currently reading, open to a random page and share two sentences from that page. But make sure you don’t share any spoilers!

Inheritance2011I‘m finally up to Inheritance, the last book what I thought was the last book in Christopher Paolini’s ‘Inheritance Cycle’. I found out over the weekend there’s another one it’s way, although there is no indication of when exactly it will be. And after some googling, I’ve learnt that while it is set in the same fictional world as the current series, it won’t necessarily be part of the series – though it will include some old characters, as well as new. So I guess I can live with there being another one coming, if it’s not exactly part of the ‘Cycle’ (and I’m sure Christopher Paolini will sleep better at night, knowing that I’m ok with him writing another book!).
I’m really hoping this one moves along at a cracking pace, as the one before this was a bit slow for me – well, until the last few chapters anyway. For the moment it’s moving quite quickly, so I’m pretty happy with it – let’s hope it continues. Anyway, here are my two sentences for this week, taken from Inheritance:

“The pursuers were so close by now that he and Arya had no choice but to turn and face them. Eragon wanted to cast the spell he had invented, but the corridor was only wide enough for the two men to approach at a time; he would not be able to kill the rest, as they were hidden from sight.”

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Books That Should Be Adapted For Film/TV

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A while ago I wrote a post about my top 10 favourite book characters on screen. As I was writing that list, it got me thinking about some other books that should be adapted for the big and small screens, and I thought I’d put together a post about it. Some of the following (which are in no particular order) have actually had rumours floating around for a while about them being adapted – however none of these rumours have borne any fruit (which is incredibly annoying). Hopefully there will be some movement on these soon however, and I can watch some more of my favourite characters do their thing on a screen.

‘The Inheritance Cycle’ by Christopher Paolini. I watched the current adaptation of the first book in this series, Eragon, at the cinema when it was released and really enjoyed it (I have it on DVD too). It’s taken me a few years to get around to reading the books, but I’m finally reading them now and getting a whole new appreciation for what it could be as a series of films. I think I may have seen a petition floating around on the interwebs a few weeks ago, calling for a reboot of Eragon. I have to say, I completely agree with this.

the bronze horsemanThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. This is one of my favourite books of all time, and it is actually a crime that it hasn’t yet been made into a film, especially when “love stories” like 50 Shades of Grey are being adapted for the screen. I know I’m not alone when I say that the story of Tatiana and Alexander deserves it’s moment in the spotlight. There’s been chatter about an adaptation for this for as long as I can remember, but sadly we remain film free. However I’ve recently convinced myself that the movie people have been waiting for the actor who is just right to play Alexander. I found him you guys – it’s Henry Cavill. Start getting this project happening yesterday.

‘The PC Grant’ series by Ben Aaronovitch. I discovered this series of (currently) five books last year and devoured them as quickly as I could get my hands on them. The best way I can describe it, is if a young Merlin wizardy type character were on The Bill and solving magical crimes. Peter Grant is a police constable AND an apprentice wizard – not a bad combination in my opinion and there’s a whole cast of interesting characters throughout the books. I think this would make a pretty good TV series and Aaronovitch actually has a screenwriting background (he wrote for Doctor Who amongst other things), so you know an adaptation would not only be good, but true to the books if left in his hands.

20120410-213918‘The Passage Trilogy’ by Justin Cronin. Another one which has had adaptation rumours attached for a long time. At the moment the trilogy only has two books – The Passage and The Twelve – but according to the interwebs (obviously the most trustworthy of sources), the third instalment is scheduled for release in OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR (calm down, Heather, calm down). I initially thought this would be best as a film, but there would be a lot of material cut if that were to happen. So I think a TV series would be the best option for this. But if they decide to go with a movie, I won’t complain.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Lots and lots and LOTS of whispers about this one. Again, a crime it’s not been made into a film yet. It has magic, romance, rivalry, and the most amazing sounding circus in the entire world. Also, if any movie people are reading and would like/care about my opinion, Ben Barnes would be the perfect Marco. Just a suggestion.

GuernseyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Everything about this book would make a great film – set in a historically significant period (during and after World War II), a little bit of romance, heartbreak, mystery, and fantastic characters. In the past when adaptations of this have been mentioned, both Kate Winslet and Michelle Dockery  have been attached to the project for the role of Juliet Ashton, but I think Keira Knightley would be great for the role. And might I suggest Tom Hardy for the role of Dawsey Adams? He’s such a fantastic actor who would bring just the right balance of masculinity and shyness to the role. Yes. It should be Tom Hardy.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. I do love a good shoot ’em up Western every now and then. I read this book not long after I’d watched the most recent film adaptation of True Grit (starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn) and I decided this book would be great made into a film also. But more of a Tarantino Western than a Coen Brothers Western, if you get what I mean.

dark-tower-covers‘The Dark Tower Series’ by Stephen King. If you’ve read this series, I know you’ll agree that it should be adapted for some kind of screen – probably TV would be best. And there has been a CRAZY amount of discussion on this over the last few years. The most recent news (that I’ve read anyway) concerned Ron Howard being involved in the project, but that was halfway through last year and I’ve not seen anything since. I’ve also seen actors like Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem pegged to take on the role of the central character in the series, The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (I say an emphatic ‘no’ to both of these). My ideal Roland would be Viggo Mortensen – he has that rugged look and the sort of face which doesn’t give away it’s age easily (Roland is around 300 years old in the books, but doesn’t look it – that would be weird). I would also accept Aaron Eckhart or, for a younger option, David Lyons (who played Sebastian Monroe on the TV series ‘Revolution’). This would be an adaptation of Game of Thrones proportions, and I am sure it would be just as successful (and at least this series is finished, George).

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. Ok, this book was only released this week, but I just know it will be adapted for the screen. It will be one of those films which will guarantee an Oscar nomination at least for any actors involved in the film. As I was reading, I kept imagining Matt Damon in the role of Joe O’Brien. Aside from the fact both are Boston born and raised, Damon is a brilliant actor and would be more than capable of bringing to life Joe O’Brien and his battle with Huntington’s Disease (remember this post when Matt Damon gets nominated for an Oscar for this role).

So, do you have any books you’d love to see adapted for the screen? Or, if you’ve been waiting on any of those I mentioned, who would you like to see cast in some of the key roles?

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Book Review – ‘Eldest’

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Eldest_book_coverTitle: Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle #2)
Author: Christopher Paolini
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult/Children’s Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★

The second book in Christopher Paolini’s ‘Inheritance Cycle’, Eldest picks up where we left Eragon and his dragon Saphira, at the conclusion of its predecessor, Eragon. I’d really enjoyed Eragon (you can read my thoughts on it here), and so I was very keen to continue on with the next book. Thankfully I was not disappointed with what I read and I would even go so far as to say that it was even better than I had been expecting.

❊❊❊ SOME SPOILERS FOR ERAGON AHEAD ❊❊❊

The most notable problem for me in Eragon, was that it was rather slow in some parts. This was in part due to the fact that it followed the one protagonist, Eragon, the entire time. Eldest however, is split into three narratives which I much preferred as it kept things interesting and allowed for much more in depth plot as a whole.
The bulk of the story is centred around Eragon and Saphira as they complete their training as dragon and Rider in the elven stronghold of Du Weldenvarden. As well as honing his swordsmanship, Eragon also learns more about Alagaesia and it’s people, and the ancient language – the language of magic.
Meanwhile, following the victory in Farthen Dur over the army of Galbatorix, the Varden are on the move in anticipation of another strike against them by Galabatorix. Making their way to Surda – a country south of the Empire that is independent from Galbatorix – we are given a glimpse at the somewhat more political side of the war against the Empire, and are introduced to some new characters as well as seeing the development of some relatively minor characters from Eragon.
Finally, a character who appeared for the briefest of moments in Eragon returns. Eragon’s cousin Roran has returned to Carvahall following the events that caused Eragon to flee there initially. But instead of the quiet village life he expected to return to, he finds himself the target of the agents of Galbatorix, with no clear reason as to why this might be, aside from the certainty that it is something to do with Eragon.

Had Paolini stuck with the formula from his first book and simply followed Eragon on his travels, I would have been less than enthusiastic about reading the next book in the series. But moving around between the different characters and situations made what was already a fairly quick read, into one that I was basically unable to put down. The closing chapters particularly had me enthralled, which made it very difficult to read calmly on the train (you can see how excited I was in my tweets over on the right). As hoped, the writing had improved greatly from the first book and even better was the fact that I didn’t dislike Eragon as a character anymore. He is definitely much more grown up from the first book, and as he plays such an integral role in the overall plot, it was nice to read and not want to yell at him every five minutes.

Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Occasionally sequels pale in comparison to their predecessors, but this is not the case with Eldest. While it didn’t provide me with everything that I hoped for (I won’t tell you what though because I’d be sharing spoilers), it was enough to keep me wanting to read more in the series and actually be excited about it.

WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I’ve done a backflip and developed an attachment to Eragon. He was a much more complex character in Eldest and had lost much of the childlike petulance which followed him around in Eragon.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – Anyone in the world who hasn’t read it (but it’s probably best if you read Eragon first). 
FAVOURITE QUOTE – “The elf was glorious in action, a perfect blend of control and untamed violence. He pounced like a cat, struck like a heron, and bobbed and weaved with the grace of a weasel.” (I liked this one because of the weasel bit. It made me giggle.)

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Book Review – ‘Inside the O’Briens’ by Lisa Genova

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InsideTheObriensTitle: Inside the O’BriensNetgalleyBadge
Author: Lisa Genova
Genre: Fiction – Adult
Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Lisa Genova is perhaps best known as being the author of Still Alice, the film adaptation of which saw Julianne Moore take home the award for Best Actress at this years Oscars. I’m yet to read Still Alice, which I hear is very good, but sometimes when books have this much hype surrounding them I like to wait a while before I read them, and hopefully be able to push all the chatter about them to the back of my mind. But I thought I’d get in on the ground floor for her latest novel, Inside the O’Briens, and I was lucky enough to get approved for an advance copy to read. I had a suspicion before I began reading that I would enjoy this book – and I did. What I didn’t expect was how attached I would become to the characters, and how emotionally invested I would be in their story (yes there were tears; they may or may not have happened on the train).

A Boston police officer in his mid-forties, Joe O’Brien is a loving husband, and father to four grown children. Despite the long and at times stressful hours of his job, Joe leads a happy life and one that is relatively average. But the normalcy of his life is disrupted when he begins to experience outbursts of anger which are completely out of character for him, involuntary movements of his body, and a disordering of a mind that is usually anything but. At first he blames the stress of his job on these unusual symptoms, but as they steadily worsen and become more noticeable, he agrees to see a doctor and eventually finds himself in the office of a neurologist. It is in this office that Joe’s world is shattered as he is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a neurodegenerative disease with no cure and one which will cause Joe’s once strong body to wither away to nothing in perhaps a matter of ten years.

But even worse in Joe’s eyes, is the news that the disease is hereditary and each of his children have a fifty percent chance of carrying the disease. All it takes for them to find out is one blood test. Through the eyes of Joe’s youngest child, Katie, we see that the decision to get this test is not an easy one to make. While knowing has the advantage of preparing her for the future, it also brings with it the knowledge that her life will be drastically shortened. As Joe’s condition worsens, we see the impact it has on every aspect of his life – his family, his friends, his job, and most notably himself. And as Katie struggles with the decision to learn her fate or not, we see just how much this disease influences a person’s future, regardless of whether they have it or not.

A neurologist herself, Genova knows what she’s talking about in regards to Huntington’s. For me it was interesting to learn more about a disease I’d heard of, but didn’t really know anything about. Genova is not shy about showing the impact of the disease in all its horrible glory, but despite this, it is not a depressing book to read. Yes there are some sad points, but there is also joy – just as there is in the life of any family. The book had me questioning myself about what I would do if I were in Joe’s situation, and there are instances throughout in which Genova touches on some somewhat controversial topics, but does so with care and I felt that as a reader I was allowed to ponder them, rather than feeling like I was being forced into forming an opinion. The disease obviously features prominently throughout the book, but so does family and Genova does a particularly good job of creating a family that isn’t perfect, and showing the day to day struggles every family goes through. For me it made the story more real and relatable, and the family acts as the perfect vessel for educating the reader on Huntington’s and just how devastating it can be.

In a sentence, Inside the O’Briens is about life: what you do with it, who you share it with, and how you leave it. I loved this book and was wholly unprepared for the wonderfully resilient character of Joe O’Brien. In the opening chapters I was unsure what to make of him, but just as you gradually get to know a person in real life, so too do you gradually get to know Joe and he genuinely touches your heart. He is a normal guy with a normal life who by unhappy chance finds himself with a horribly debilitating disease. This for me was the most affecting thing about Inside the O’Briens – that this man could be a person who you see every day. It’s not often that I continue thinking about a book for days after I finish reading it. But I have this time and I suspect I’ll continue to think about it for a long time to come. If that was Lisa Genova’s goal, then she has definitely accomplished it.

Many thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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