October Wrap-Up

Another slightly slow reading month for me, though thankfully I feel like my reading slump is drawing to a close, helped along by some community reading events that I really enjoyed (the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon & the Library Scavenger Hunt, as well as a readalong with some of my friends). 🙂 I’m looking forward to the books I’m planning on reading in November, too – though I’m sure that NaNoWriMo (which I am attempting for the third time) will significantly cut into my reading time. ^^’ Anyway, in total this month, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 graphic novels, and 2 short/single-issue comics.

Kate Beaton//Step Aside, PopsStep Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. The follow-up to Hark! A Vagrant, which collects several more hilarious comics from Beaton’s webcomic of the same name. Some of my favourites in this volume include: The Nancy Drew book cover interpretations, Liszt and Chopin, the Wuthering Heights parodies, and many, many others.4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The latest instalment of the Saga series – an epic space odyssey comic that follows a couple from two warring races, on the run from both of their respective societies in order to protect themselves and their daughter. Obviously, since this is the fifth volume, I can’t say much about the plot, but this is probably the best volume yet. 😀5 starsRick Riordan//The Red PyramidThe Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. The first book in the Kane Chronicles series, which follows Sadie and Carter Kane on their journey to defeat the evil god Set, and hopefully rescue their father along the way (and get mixed up in a lot of Egyptian magical messes). It’s tempting to say that this book felt a bit like a less-good version of Percy Jackson, because at times it did, and it’s difficult to look at the two series separately when Riordan is constantly trying to push the idea that they’re not fiction… Speaking of which, this book is written as if it’s been transcribed from a recording, which I wouldn’t have minded, if we’d been allowed to forget it for more than a couple of pages at a time, but Sadie and Carter were constantly interrupting each other, which made the narrative kind of choppy. The characters were also a little lackluster, and while Sadie seemed to come into her own towards the end of the book, Carter remained a bit “meh” the whole way through. (This all sounds very negative, doesn’t it? I did like this book, but it was definitely trying too hard to replicate everything that made Percy Jackson so great, and feels a little forced as a result. It’s a little hard to go back to after reading the Heroes of Olympus books – where Riordan did away with most of the gimmicky stuff – but if you manage to get through the first part of the book, I wager you’ll enjoy the result.)2 starsRainbow Rowell//Carry OnSally Slater//PaladinAt this point, the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon took over, for which I read two books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and Paladin by Sally Slater (only the former of which was actually on my readathon TBR ^^’ ). I’ve written a mini-review for each of them, which you can read by clicking on their covers.5+ stars4 starsJoanne M. Harris//The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. A re-telling of the legends of the Norse god Loki, as told by Loki himself, which was unfortunately not as good as I was hoping it would be (though, to be fair, my expectations were quite high). That said, I did enjoy it, and I have written a full review explaining my issues here. I read this book alongside Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books and another (non-blogger) friend, and it was a really fun thing to do. More readalongs hopefully to come. 🙂3 starsPaul Dowswell//Sektion 20Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for October, which follows a teenager called Alex who lives in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve written a mini-review of this book, which you can read here, if you’re interested, but – long story short – it’s not a book I’d recommend.2 starsHanna K//Adventure Time 2015 SpoooktacularAdventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A cute one-shot comic that follows Marceline and Schwabl, her adorable dog, as they explore the world that Marceline comes from. This apparently ties in to a new Marceline mini-series that’s going to be released soon, but even on its own (and even to someone like me who hasn’t read or watched much Adventure Time before), it’s a really great story, with some beautiful art.5 starsThe Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. A short comic told mostly in pictures, about a man living (or possibly just camping) in the Antarctic, who sets out one day to find a cup of tea, and is helped along the way by penguins, seals, and a yeti! Another adorable read; it’s amazing to think that this whole thing was drawn in just a day! 😮5 stars

[EDIT (11/4/2020): Changed rating of The Red Pyramid from 3 to 2 stars to more honestly reflect my feelings on it.]

Library Scavenger Hunt: October

This month’s challenge was to read a book with a number in the title, which I was actually pretty excited for! Trawling the adult fiction section in my local library (since I was really in the mood to change things up a little at the beginning of the month), I came across Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett – a book I knew absolutely nothing about (except that, having been published under the Penguin Classics imprint, it must be a classic), but which I had a good feeling about nonetheless. Unfortunately, the book was recalled before I actually got a chance to start on it. 😦 So, after a second visit to the library, I finally decided on…

Paul Dowswell

Paul Dowswell//Sektion 20Set in East Berlin in the 1970s, this book follows Alex Ostermann, a rebellious teenager who falls afoul of the Stasi  for the grave crime of having long hair and liking rock music. :/ As you can probably tell from my tone there, I wasn’t really able to take it all that seriously, though it was quite interesting in its portrayal of life in East Berlin under the rule of the German Democratic Republic. I just find it hard to believe that the Stasi – essentially the secret police – had nothing better to do with their time than stalk a teenage boy whose main goals in life were to look cool and impress his girlfriend.

The characters weren’t too bad, on the whole. I wasn’t very impressed by Alex, or by his girlfriend Sophie, but the rest of the Ostermann family were more likeable, and I eventually grew quite fond of Alex’s sister Geli – an aspiring photographer – and his strict-party-line father, who (in my opinion) had the most interesting role in the book. The only other significant character was the Stasi officer Kohl who was assigned to follow Alex around, and I’m sad to say that no effort was made at all to make him seem like anything other than “Forgettable Bad Guy #x“, to such an extent that I often found it difficult to remember his name.

The book’s main problem lies with the writing, however, which is completely dry and without emotion. Much of the time, it read almost like a summary of events, rather than a narrative, and even though the actual plot was very dramatic, I was not even a tiny bit emotionally invested in any of it – with the notable exception of a couple of chapters near the end of the book, which were told from the perspective of Alex’s father, and were surprisingly tense. I also found Dowswell’s use of what I would refer to as “fan-German”* annoying and kind of distracting.

Overall, I’d say this book was mostly forgettable. I didn’t hate it, but I very much doubt I would ever recommend it to anyone.2 stars

*Fan-[language of your choice]: When authors randomly insert foreign words into sentences for no reason. I call it fan-[language] because it’s something I’ve mostly come across in fanfiction of anime series, where people mainly seem to use it in order to show off the fact that they’ve learnt a hadful of Japanese phrases… An example from this book, however:

She wondered what these buildings had seen. Who had lived in them? ‘Na und?’ – Who cares? – said Jan-Carl. But Geli did.

[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]