January: In Reading

 

This past month I’ve been working hard to catch up with all of the things I wasn’t able to over the festive season and reading as many books as I could came at the top of that list. I still feel pretty bad about failing my 52 Week Book Challenge from last year so I decided to kick-start it again this year –  with a focus on just reading rather than recording a YouTube video every week.

So far it’s been a success as last month I actually managed to get ahead of myself by one whole book, apparently I’m ahead of schedule. This month however has been quite difficult because I’ve been spending so much time finishing off some video editing projects and moving my entire blog onto my own domain (and changing it’s name – do you like it?).

January was quite a varied month for books I decided to pick up off the shelf, so let’s start with my first read:-

 

Adventures With the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman. Faber & Faber, £8.99 from Waterstones.

To cut a long story short, I was taught by Neil’s wife Sue at university. She was one of my favourite lecturers because she has always supported me and my classmates during our studies (and afterwards too). No mission is impossible when it comes to a TV studio project or dissertation documentary!

Basically, Neil is a massive Doctor Who fan and once convinced Sue to watched the entire ‘old’ series from the beginning (or as far back as you can with missing episodes) with him even though she hates it. Sue then proceeded to comment about each episode and Neil ended up recording her words and turning the project into a successful blog and now book about the adventure.

I picked up Neil’s book in London last year and I’ve wanted to read it for ages. I took this off the shelf when I had a spare moment and had finished it within an afternoon. I ended up having my own adventure of nostalgia about my time in Sunderland and in Sue’s company whilst reading this book, Neil captures his wife wonderfully and his love for her leaps off of the page. Even though this is more of a companion piece to the blog it captivates what the project was about, a fanboyman sharing something he loves with his wife (and making something out of it). The stories Neil shares are funny and enlightening, he has a real talent for writing comedic prose that is smart and entertaining at the same time.

A few people on Goodreads don’t quite seem to understand what the book is about or where it’s coming from which is a shame, so much so I even posted my own review about it. I found this book to be a lovely read that goes nicely with a cuppa on a rainy afternoon. It really did make me laugh a couple of times which is very rare for me.

 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Penguin Books, £5.99 from Waterstones.

In retrospect now that I’m thinking about the book I raved about when I turned the back cover… I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I did to begin with. Generally I’ve completely gone off of young adult fiction altogether – but I think I can blame the next two books I read for that. I don’t often read science-fiction books but this one was an interesting find just before Christmas so I popped it on my list to Santa and I don’t regret reading it at all.

The story is about Amy, who is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, Amy’s cryogenic chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed. From there she comes across Elder who is in training to be the next leader of the ship and then she becomes tangled into the processes going on onboard the ship and the events that led her to being prematurely woken.

On the surface, I did actually quite like the premise of this tale. It was an easy book to get into and a good page-turner for when I had a few hours to kill. Unlike other books I read this month I actually found it quite easy to follow the story and stay interested. To be honest when you read so much YA fiction you start to find some plots predictable and it tends to ruin your reading a little – but that’s just me being cynical. Even though I saw the end coming and pretty much guessed the outcome from about a third of the way through I still enjoyed reading it.

Basically, I spent a rather enjoyable morning and afternoon reading this book and I didn’t really care that I’d been reading it so long one day that I gave myself a headache. I’ve already been keeping an eye out for the sequel when I’m in book shops to pop into my basket and through the till.

 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Chicken House, £6.39 from Waterstones.

I can’t remember why I decided to buy this series – I think one of my friends was reading it and I’d seen it The Works for a good price so decided to bite the bullet and add it to my bookshelf. I remember coming across this series when I was younger and never feeling captivated by the premise. Really, I think I read far too much dystopian YA fiction at the moment and this book and it’s sequels just hammered the nail into the coffin of this genre for me – for the time being.

The Maze Runner is focused around Thomas who wakes up in a lift that eventually reaches it’s destination high above the ground, an ever-changing maze with a central riddle to solve by the ‘runners’. Oh yeah, and there’s some evil killer slugs called ‘Grievers’ that sting like a bitch. Of course, Thomas gets straight in on the action and his arrival triggers a chain of events that turn everything on it’s head.

Okay, so no offence to the series itself but I just think it came along at totally the wrong time for me. I suffered through the first few pages of the opening chapters of this book several times over – I put the book up and down that many times! Try as I might I just couldn’t get ‘into’ Thomas and his story. I couldn’t be bothered to get introduced to the main characters and never even felt an attachment to any of them. It doesn’t help that things get twisted so many times, as per the next book I read in the series this month…

 

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. Chicken House, £5.99 from Waterstones.

So this is book two in the series and being as I own the lot I opened this book as soon as I put the other one down. Yes I really struggled with the first one but once I’d forced my eyes open with a couple of matchsticks and then cello-taped myself to a chair just so I could give The Maze Runner a chance I didn’t mind continuing the story on. See that’s the charm of this series, the plot and characters get turned on their heads so many times that you almost can’t help reading on just to find out what changes and whose loyalty lies where.

I still didn’t enjoy this book sadly, which is a damn shame. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea or I’ve just kept reading the same sort of thing and completely had enough but this series didn’t get me excited. Okay so I liked how everything changed as we went into ‘phase two’ with the characters but I still paused halfway through and had to have a two or three day break between finishing because I couldn’t really find the motivation to continue.

I won’t go really far into the plot of this one but let’s just say Thomas and co get into another sticky situation even though they managed to break out of the maze. I felt like I’d ran a mile reading this book, just because the action is fast-paced. It was at times difficult to actually look for the clues and read into action scenes because it was all happening so fast. I really craved some character development in the end.

Generally not a bad input as a second book in the series, I’ve finished the third one already but am undecided if I want to read the prequel. Time will tell.

So that was all the books I managed to get through in January. It’s been an insightful endeavour now I’d had the chance to really take the time and think about my reading choices, I really do think it’s about time I swapped genres.

What books have you read recently? Are you submitting yourself to a monthly reading challenge like me?