California reading

imageAnyone who spends any time on my blog will know that I am more than a little excited about my upcoming holidays, half of which will be spent in California, one of my favourite holiday destinations.  Slowly but surely, my hubbie and I are working our way around the state and, this time, I get to visit San Francisco for the first time which I am really looking forward to.

In honour of our upcoming trip, I thought it might be fun to share my five favourite books set in California…

Mid-year freak out tag

So I’ve been seeing this tag everywhere recently, including over at Snazzy Books and Books, Movies, Reviews, Oh My! and I thought it would be fun to do too as I normally post a “best of the year so far” post about now.  This seems a nice replacement.  Here are my answers…

1) The best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

51j92jJ6+dLI have to pick a really recent read, Forgotten by Nicole Trope, which just blew me away.

2) Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

#FF: Favourite Re-reads

feature-and-follow

Once again, I’m joining in again with Feature & Follow hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week they post a prompt, which you respond to, and then spend some time visiting and following other blogs (the following is an important part). Feel free to join in – it’s fun and a great way to meet other bloggers.

This weeks prompt is…

What book do you reread the most? (For people who don’t reread, what books have you considered rereading?)

This is a pretty easy one to answer because I rarely re-read books, and when I do it’s only once. Which means I don’t have to sit here trying to coust re-reads on my fingers because there is only one book up for consideration, Dracula by Bram Stoker.

image I actually don’t know how many times I have read Dracula, at least 10 times and probably more since I first read it as a teenager. Every few years I have an overwhelming desire to read it.

Why this book? Because it scares me, every time, and I love being scared. I always read it at night and always at winter. And then I always sleep with the hall light on.  It’s just so creepy and tension just build s all the way through.

Plus, it’s set in part in my favourite part of the world (yes world), Whitby. With it’s cliffs, harbour, gothic church and ruined abbey it is the perfect setting for Dracula to land and when I read it I could picture it clear as day. And it sent a chill down my spine.

As far as books go, I know many now are gorier and hold more twists and turns but this still can’t be beaten for me for setting a scene, building tension, and presenting the ultimate villan, one you kind of want to meet.

What about you, what do you re-read or what do you think you should?

Emma

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

Title: MaddAddam
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy (Book 3)
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but the book jacket for Margaret Attwood’s MaddAddam is my favourite of the year. As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t wait to start reading. The fact that I am a big Margaret Attwood fan, might have had something to do with this and that I enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy (Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood).

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MaddAddam is the story of some of the last remaining humans and the Crakers, scientifically spliced creatures who look like people but with a twist (including eyes that are luminous). They do not eat meat, do not know hate, or fear. Named after their creator Crake, he made them to inherit the earth after he destroyed mankind through a virus and what became known as the Waterless Flood. Whether I can feel too sorry for most of mankind I’m not sure. In Attwood’s world most are greedy and corrupt or too broken to care; they are happy to feast on genetically modified food and bleed the world dry of its resources rather than try and change. Society is run by large corporations who use science not to the betterment of people but to their cost.

“The people in the chaos cannot learn. They cannot understand what they are doing to the sea and the sky and the plants and the animals. They cannot understand that they are killing them, and that they will end by killing themselves. And there are so many of them, and each one of them is doing part of the killing, whether they know it or not. And when”

Some did try to change things, the Gods Gardeners were one group, and their remaining members are some of the central characters in the novel – Toby, Zeb, Ren, and Amanda. Then there is Jimmy, former best friend of Crake and unlikely prophet to the Crakers (as long as he wears a baseball hat and sunglasses with one lens). All of them have survived through a combination of luck, skill and perseverance and we are told their stories in the first two novels (other than Zebs, which is told here). Now, they are living in a compound, along with the Crakers, at risk from paintballers and pigoons and trying to survive.

The future it presents is scary, one I don’t particularly want to see but then think might be possible when I read news stories about the government contracting out all its work and countries modifying their food in order to feed their populations. And that’s even before you add in global warming. One of the things I like about Margaret Attwood is I always end up thinking about what I’m reading and MaddAddam, along with the other books in the trilogy, made me realise how little I know about environmental issues and how potentially dangerous that is. I’m a bit like the general human race before the flood, blindly walking into a future where the planet can’t sustain us.

The other things I love are the complexity – her books don’t tell simple stories in a simple way – and the language, the way she presents people and ideas (“Perfection exacts a price, but it’s the imperfect who pay it”) at the same time as sometimes just stating the obvious and it makes me laugh (“The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them.” ). I also like that she is a brave storyteller, she really seems to tell the story she wants, the way she wants to. There is an attitude in her novels that I love and there isn’t always a happy ending.

Given all that, and my comments at the beginning of the post, it’s probably obvious to say I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, but possibly with the caveat that you read the other books first (there is a summary at the start but I still found myself stopping at times to try to figure out who someone was or when something had happened.)

Note: I actually wrote this review for my previous blog but decided to re-post it here after my current read, J. By Howard Jacobson, also set in a future I wouldn’t want to inhabit, brought it to mind

Lost in Translation

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation” – Robert Frost

As today is National Poetry Day and the theme is Remember, I thought it might be a good time to take a quick trip down my “poetry memory lane”

I was never much of a one for school but did always love English. When I went up to senior school, I had a great teacher, Mrs. Stanley. She introduced me to Shakespeare and to poetry, both of which I still love. It was probably no surprise with poetry – I already spent many an hour absorbed in the lyrics of my favourite songs trying to figure out exactly what they meant, and a good song is – I think – poetry set to music.

The first poem Mrs. Stanley had us read was Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.