Posted in discussion

The Right Way To Read…

The book community is truly a wonderful place to be. I originally started this book because I wanted to create an online space where I could talk constantly about books without feeling like I have to apologise for word-vomiting my love for stacks of paper. I’ve grown to learn more about the industry and try some books I would never have touched of my own accord. Conversations are constantly streaming in this community from the latest movie news, book announcements, what readers are loving at the moment… But with the good side, there is also a bad one to balance everything out.

Every so often I see readers complaining about how others choose to read/what others choose to read; going on rants about over-hyped books not actually deserving the attention they get,  shaming others for the age range they enjoy, the genre, the tropes they devour. Recently, authors seem to have become a lot more vocal about the money side of dedicating their lives to creating fictional worlds. As the pressure has continued to build, it’s become hard for me to buy book without feeling some sort of guilt as I try to work out just how much of the money spent will be going directly to the authors I adore. So, with all of this in mind, what is the best way to read?

 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have surged in popularity in recent years, causing many publishers to start dedicating more money and time to expanding their collections. Over the past year, I’ve fallen back in love with audiobooks. Readers can multi-task, some books work better in audio form because the narrator is just so good. But there’s a lot of stigma around whether they are “real reading.” It’s a silly argument to me as you’re still enjoying the story and also it allows those with sight difficulties to fall in love with these tales just the same way as everyone else.
E-Readers

With extensive deals and discounts, it’s no surprise that readers are often against the idea of E-Books. The dreaded electronic devices have been at the centre of many disagreements and I used to be firmly against one… until I actually got one. For people with sight issues, text can be altered both in font and size to make it more readable.

 

Books

Yes, it seems like a rather obvious one, I know. Of course the best way to read books is to… read books. But where exactly do you get your books from? The supermarket or a high street book store? The library or online? What about your local charity shops? A big criticism made towards the video community, Booktube, is the lack of mentions about independent places, libraries or charity shops. (Again, we’re back to the theme of shaming) I’ve seen many people feel like they are superior because they bought their latest stack of books for 50p each.

Basically, this is a long winded way of me making the point that it shouldn’t matter how you read. It should matter than you’re reading at all. That you’re out there blogging about the books you love or just recommending it to those in your real life. Do not ever feel shamed for what you choose to read or how you chose to enjoy those books (as long as it is legal of course!)

What are your thoughts?

Let me know your favourite way to read!

Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Eve Of Man – Tom & Giovanna Fletcher

“She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about; their final hope. Eve was the saviour of humanity. I am Eve.”

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Blurb: “All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past. But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?”

I’ve been a long-time fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher independently, so when I saw the announcement that they had written a book together, I was both excited but very wary. Tom Fletcher is a children’s book writer, known primarily for The Christmasauras, and Giovanna is a romance writer, known for Billy And Me. So not only were they merging together, but also stepping into a new area of the book world as Eve Of Man is the first in a Young Adult Sci-Fi series.

To start with, I was very anxious because I wanted to love it, and throw aside all my preconceptions as they are new to YA and many adult authors etc. have made a successful transition. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Charlotte Richie and Josh Dylan, and honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this book without it. Because it’s a bad book. A really bad book.

Eve of Man is pitched as an “unconventional love story” and yet with the premise of the story, it does little to surprise the reader. Eve is sixteen, the first girl born in fifty years and now about to be palmed off to any boy who might be capable of ensuring the survival of the human race. Eventually she realises her situation is wrong and starts to rebel. There was a lot of buzz shortly after the release regarding gender sterotypes in the book. It’s, again, predictable but not really surprising that it’s rigid in binary as the point we’re introduced to the characters is when Eve is deemed ready to bear a child. The reader is doused in layer upon layer of information about how the world got to this point, revealing how the woman suddenly stopped carrying girls to full term and methods that were put into place. There are a few hints to other sexualities but these are very much brushed over and I was more concerned that in this Handmaid’s Tale-esque aspect there wasn’t much attention brought to what happened to infertile women.

The story is told in two perspectives: Eve and Bram. It’s first person, meaning the reader gets into the route of their thoughts and to be honest I found Bram infinitely more interesting. Eve lives in this place called “the dome” which is essentially her prison. The regular communication she has is with a hologram called Holly who has to be operated by a pilot in order to interact with Eve. Bram is one of these pilots which was super interesting and destroyed my previous idea that Bram would turn out to be one of the suitors. His perspective was great in showing what was going on outside of Holly’s world from the government interference to the people rallying in the streets, demanding Eve’s freedom. However, the narrator was so bland that it just didn’t make him feel real. There was no real change in voice either for characters so I often had to rewind to work out who was speaking. Eve’s narrative wasn’t necessarily bad but I just didn’t really care for her.

In terms of the writing, what I gathered from the audiobook is that Eve very much has Giovanna’s usual writing style and will be comforting to those familiar with her other works. My main issue was that Eve didn’t’ come across as sixteen. As for Bram, Tom’s writing is quite simply a mess. It’s very clunky and could have done with a lot more buffing around the edges. Both perspectives had the issue of information dumping both in the sense of “telling rather than showing” and the reader is constantly having bits of knowledge thrown at them that isn’t really needed; a lot of it was information that the writer needed to know to form and understand the world, but wasn’t vital for those reading. It always seemed to come at the worst times. For example, there’s a dramatic section in the latter half of the book with Bram and the action is suddenly halted for a few minutes while the reader is given the history of the room. All that build up is suddenly halted and it was hard to get back on board after being steered off track.

To me, Eve of Man  was a book with a lot of potential but completely fell apart in the execution.

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Posted in discussion

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

We’ve officially reached the mid-way point in the year, which is a mixture of exciting and terrifying! So it’s time to reflect on all the bookish adventures I’ve had so far.

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

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This one is actually a bit of a cop-out as I’ve only read two sequels this year and this one was a reread. As you’re probably aware, it’s the second book in The Maze Runner series and after falling into my hole at the start of the year when the final film adaptation was released, I decided to give the whole series a reread. It’s definitely one of my favourites in the series.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Noah Can’t Even was one of my favourite books of last year and when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I did a lot of running around and screaming. The first book is about a boy called Noah discovering and exploring his sexuality and it’s by a British author! It’s hysterical, cringy and just brilliant so I can’t wait to see what adventures Noah goes on in this one.

 

Most Anticipated For Autumn/Winter

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It is a known fact that I adore Becky Albertalli… but also that I am not the biggest fan of Adam Silvera, so it’s no surprise that the book I’m looking forward is What If It’s Us? I don’t know much about it except that it’s about two boys and all the possibilities of their lives together.

 

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

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As a big lover of both Tom and Giovanna’s individual works, I was both excited and nervous to hear that they were moving into the realms of Young Adult fiction. Sadly, it’s not that great. The narrators for the audiobook don’t really add anything to the characters, it’s badly written, and just… well, boring.

 

Biggest Surprise Of The Year So Far

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How To Stop Time was a Christmas present from a friend and not the sort of book I would have picked up of my own accord. It’s about a man who’s lived for centuries and is struggling to find his place in the world now that everyone he’s loved has passed away. It’s beautiful, emotional and raises the questions of who we are outside of our connections to other people.

 

New Favourite Author

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All it took was “The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park” for me to pick up a copy of The Extinction Trials. It’s a world of two continents: one populated by humans, the other by dinosaurs. It’s action packed and utterly brilliant and I’m down for any other books S.M. Wilson may release!

 

Newest Favourite Character

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This isn’t really a new character, but I started the series last year and I just utterly adore Lara Jean. She’s so caring and loves her family and it just trying to stay true to herself.

 

Book That Made You Cry

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I heard about this book when Patrisse was on the Mostly Lit podcast talking about her life and the Black Lives Matter movement which she co-founded. I listened to the audiobook as I feel this is the best way to consume non-fiction. There are many exhausting moments of this book as Patrisse talks about her life but one chapter about the treatment of her brother regarding his mental health just had me sobbing. If you pick up one book this year, make it this one.
Book That Made You Happy

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Oi Goat was one of the World Book Day titles and just made me grin reading it. The frog in the story is teaching all the different things animals have dressed up as for World Book Day such as “otters dressed as Harry Potters.”

Most Beautiful Book So Far

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I mean, just look at it! It’s so simple but just packs a punch!

 

Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

The Death Cure – James Dashner

“It’s a very old axiom, but do you believe the end can justify the means? When there’s no choice left?”

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Blurb: “WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.”

Brief Note: I am aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in a blog post. That is the last I will say on it

The Death Cure is, admittedly, a book that I’ve abandoned in the past. So when I came to the decision to revisit this series, I knew that the best way to go about it was to read all of the books back to back (hence why you’re receiving an onslaught of Maze Runner content, sorry).

For the past two books, the questions and tension have continued to grow to an unbearable level and, in this final part, finally explode with epic action and many instances that may cause readers to throw the book across the room in fear. There are a lot of moments where finally getting those well-needed answers left me just wishing I’d never found out the truth.

The question of Wicked being good once again comes to the forefront as the characters continue to learn more about the world and how much power this corporation actually holds. It creates an interesting grey area as more facts about the epidemic begin to emerge and I just love complex aspects that can be unpacked; I guess it’s one of the reasons that I find Teresa interesting and irritating in equal measure.

I found it fascinating seeing more of the world just outside Wicked’s front door and how the group seem to turn a blind eye to all the people needing their help and how the city tossed the infected out to a place full of cranks known as “the crank palace.” (Which is definitely a place I would do my best to avoid!)

I adore the focus on friendships in this series and how close the characters become despite the horrible situation they’ve been forced into. My personal favourites are Minho and Thomas – how they work together to lead the others but never fight to be the one leading – and Thomas and Newt – where you get the real sense of “I would do anything for this person.”

Thomas is unlike most protagonists I’ve come across in YA dystopian because he is flawed: the first time he kills someone really stays with him and every person he loses because of his bad decision continues to weigh him down. He is very much aware that his friends are blindly following him unaware that he has no real plan or idea where he’s taking them. His narrative is heart-breaking to read at times when he reminisces on his choices and looks at what his possible future might be. The reader is really able to feel-and connect to the pain- in a lot of ways that other books in this genre seem to miss the mark with.

Overall, I think I actually prefer the films to the books (I know that I sacrilege as a book blogger). I just feel that the ideas outweigh the execution and that the adaptations – while going very much off course of the source material – take the story in a much better direction.

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Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | Eve Of Man

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher’s books. However, when I saw the announcement that they had written a YA book titled Eve Of Man, I was very sceptical. As they are established in their respective age ranges – Tom being a children’s author and Giovanna being an adult romance author – it felt like a strange merge and almost an invasion for them to step into the world of young adult.

Pitched as an “unconventional love story”, Eve of Man takes place in a world where no girls have been born for fifty years. The human race is facing extinction… until Eve. She is Earth’s last hope. Told through two perspectives, readers learn about Eve’s life inside the dome and Bram; one of the many people watching over her.

At the time of writing this post, I am 52% into the audiobook and it’s safe to say that I am really struggling not to give up on it. The story is narrated by two people: Charlotte Ritchie for Eve’s chapters and Josh Dylan for Bram’s. My big issue is that the latter is incredibly boring. While the writing itself shows the passion Bram has, the dramatization makes it seem like the character is just bored and doesn’t really care about Eve. There’s not real vocal changes to represent the characters to I have to rewind a lot to understand which character is saying the dialogue. Eve is much preferable and has that typical style to it that will be recognisable to fans of Giovanna’s books and, because the dramatization is infinitely better, I’m enjoying her chapters a lot more.

The writing itself is really clunky, especially in Bram’s chapters and overall there’s so much telling rather than showing. In these kinds of futuristic stories, I like being given a few breadcrumbs then just thrown in with the character. Whereas in Eve of Man  I’m taken out of the moment a lot as a scene takes place and it suddenly halted for a few minutes of info-dumping.

I plan on going into more concise detail in my full review but I will briefly mention the issues raised about gender stereotypes in this book. To me, it’s understandable that the story has gone down such a confined route, and that there’s a lack of mention for sexualities, but  it seems odd not to bring mention to infertile women in the quest to birth a girl.

Have you read Eve of Man?

What did you think?

Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Scorch Trials

“The flare always wins in the end. You lose any chance of being rational, having common sense, having compassion. You lose your humanity.”

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Blurb: “Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in in my blog post that is all I’m going to say on it.

When I initially started reading this series, on a film adaptation fuelled hype, this was my favourite book of the first two. In fact, it was one of the first reviews I actually did here on Charlottereadsthings and I was interested to revisit it and see what I thought of it this time around.

As to be expected with a series, The Scorch Trials is very much a “transition book.” Thomas and his fellow gladers barely make it through the Maze Trials only to be thrown into a world devastated by a disease called The Flare. They’re no closer to being free and the questions from the previous book only continue to grow in number of the course of this addition to the timeline.

I love this book because the reader starts to see Thomas make that shift from a scared, clueless boy into a sort of leader for the remaining group of boys. I adore watching him team up and work together with Minho and how they bounce off each other while focusing on keeping everyone safe. The introduction of a girl called Brenda in the scorched world really hit me a lot more this time because I was able to see the parallels between her and Thomas: Brenda is a survivor in her own way; forced to live in the “real” world seeing the true effects of the flare at work.

My issue with my reread for The Maze Runner was the attempts at dialogue and, thankfully, they are fare and few between in this book. They flow into the dialogue a lot more and I feel that the shift has a lot to do with the new characters coming in that haven’t been exposed to words like “shank.”

As I mentioned earlier, this is the second book in the series and, almost unsurprisingly, it lags quite a bit in places while the characters explore this new world. While the previous book felt claustrophobic, this one almost feels like there’s too much space. It did reach points when I felt I was forcing myself through long boring segments in the hopes it would pick up.

I like the concept of everyone having a purpose within this world. As the characters learn more about themselves, and try to piece together their lives before the maze with limited memories, they discover that regardless of whether their role is to be the leader, the glue, or the betrayer, they all have a role. And I think that is something we can all apply to real life.

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Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Maze Runner

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

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Blurb: “Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in my blog post and that is all I’m going to say on it.

I first read The Maze Runner when the dystopian genre was at the peak of popularity and, as you’ve probably guessed, I picked it up because of the film adaptation creeping around the corner. Dystopian was always heavily sci-fi based which often put me off – though now the genre has been left for dust I do miss it terribly. Yet, as I delved into this story, I was hooked on every single word.

This post is the start of a few weeks of posts on this series as I reread them after seeing the final film.

The story follows a boy called Thomas who finds himself trapped in a maze with no memories. The only thing he can remember is his name. Some of the people he finds himself coexisting with have been stuck in this place called The Glade for three years and are still yet to find the way out.

What I love about this story is how claustrophobic it feels: the towering walls, the limits of the place they inhabit and the dawning sense that something is definitely not right. Thomas asks question after question, which gets increasingly annoying, only to be met with half-statements from the group. As the plot thickens, it really feels like the reader is confined to this place with the character. The questions continue to build with little in the way of answers and that’s what drives Thomas forward. The amount of questions reach an incredibly annoying level, but I imagine that if I woke up in a place like this, I’d be exactly the same. It’s fascinating how the group of boys have made a civilisation and all have jobs such as farming or being doctors to keep everything running since they resided themselves to never leaving the maze.

The cast of characters is surprisingly diverse from the American protagonist, a British boy named Newt to the POC characters such as Alby – leader of the Glade –  and Frypan -the cook – and an Asian boy called Minho who is in charge of running the maze in order to map it and find a way out.

While I appreciate the attempts at dialect in The Glade, the consistent use of “shuck”, “klunk” and “just slim it” really do make the conversation clunky, especially when there’s no glossary provided to explain the meanings so the reader is forced to try and work out whether the words have positive or negative connotations.

The last time I read this book I was infuriated by some of the gladers actions towards Thomas and how they won’t listen to him and constantly shut him out. Especially the character of Gally who seems to have a personal vendetta against the protagonist. But this time around I understood him: he is partly in charge of this group of boys, he’s helped build this new home for them and suddenly a new boy comes along with a lot of questions and bad things start happening. I know for sure who I’d blame there!

The Maze Runner builds and builds until the reader feels like the tension might finally end only for it to keep dragging them along, scared and helpless to the dramatic conclusion.

Wicked is good… or are they?

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