Doctor Who: Sleepers in the Dust by Darren Jones (Audiobook) #60Books

Read as part of my 60 Books Challenge: A book based on a TV show.

Doctor Who: Sleepers in the Dust is an audiobook written by Darren Jones, and narrated by Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams).

The story is told from Rory Williams’ point of view. The 11th Doctor and the Ponds land on the planet Nadurniss, which is under quarantine. The planet had been deserted years ago, but a Nadurni-Human expedition recently returned – only to get infected with age-old bacteria that had been waiting in the dust.

With Amy in danger, it’s up to her Boys, Rory and the Doctor, to figure out what is going on.

The story itself works on a fairly basic premise, and as it’s Doctor Who, there’s a lot of timey-wimey stuff going on. What really makes this audiobook worth listening to is Arthur Darvill. While his Scottish impression of Amy needs a bit more work, his impression of Matt Smith’s Doctor is spot-on. Rory is his usual reluctant hero self, bumbling along as the voice of reason.

It’s definitely an enjoyable story for Doctor Who fans, made even better by Arthur Darvill’s narration.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Title: Doctor Who: Sleepers in the Dust
Author: Darren Jones
Publisher: BBC / AudioGo
Release Date: November 1, 2012
ISBN:  978-1445891736

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke #AtoZ #60Books

This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge, as well as my 60 Books Challenge: a book with magic.

Set in the early nineteenth century, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell contains a rare mixture of historical fiction and old magic that is hard to find these days.

There used to be magic in England. But at the time the book is set in, it has been reduced to old myths and folklore. Even The Learned Society of Magicians is purely theoretical and  does not know any tricks – they merely exchange the stories of old.

Except for the reclusive Mr Norrell. As the only practical magician, he brings magic back to England. He is learned, and studied the old tales and their warnings. Norrell is a respectable gentleman. So when a young man called Jonathan Strange discovers that he does have magical powers and shows interest in the old magical legends about the Raven King, Mr Norrell becomes his protegé.

But while Norrell is restrained and cautious, Strange soon becomes interested in wilder, more perilous forms of magic and their uses, and thus endangers everyone he knows. Can old magic be restored to England? And are the stories about the Raven King and a creature only known as Gentleman true?

The entire book is beautifully written in era-specific language, which really helps bring the story to life. It’s got a little bit of Austen and Wilde, maybe even some Poe, but also a bit of old-fashioned fairytales from the likes of Andersen or the Brothers Grimm. It’s a long read at 1,006 pages, but it is worth it. It’s a very immersive tale, full of intriguing characters, all flawed in one way or another. The relationship between Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange, which ranges from friendship and mentorship to rivalry and everything in-between, is the backbone of the entire story. The magic is woven around it, gradually and skillfully, and continuously goes deeper and deeper until the lines between reality and folklore are blurred.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is historical fantasy at its finest.


My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Author: Susanna Clarke
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 5, 2005
Pages: 1,006
ISBN:  978-0747579885

Into the River by Ted Dawe #AtoZ #60Books

This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge. Also part of my 60 Books Challenge: A banned book.

Into the River by Ted Dawe is a coming-of-age and loss-of-innocence story which, albeit briefly, became the first book to be banned in New Zealand.

The story is about a Māori boy called Te Arepa “Devon” Santos. Having grown up on the rural East Coast, the fourteen-year-old boy wins a scholarship to attend an exclusive boy’s boarding school in Auckland.

Like many young adult novels set in schools and featuring teenagers as the main characters, the book contains its fair share of references to drugs, sex, racism, bullying and foul language. However, none of these things warranted an interim restriction for this book. Maybe those who sought to ban this novel are out of touch with what goes on between teenagers at school.

What becomes clear to any reader is that teenagers deal with many problems, ranging from peer pressure, the complex relationships between adolescents, confusion, sexual exploration, vulnerability, to loss and survival.

Yes, some swear words are used. But not so much so that the book would require a Parental Advisory sticker. Yes, there are sex scenes. However, there is steamier fanfiction on the internet – written by actual 14-year-olds – than any of the scenes in this book written by a 60-something teacher.

It’s evident in his flowing dialogue and the way the characters interact, that at least some of the behaviour is based on observation. By making the main character Māori, Dawe not only highlights the culture and the way Te Arepa tries to follow in the footsteps of his iwi’s (tribe’s) and whanau’s (family’s) ancestors, it also highlights New Zealand’s multiculturalism and the way the two languages – English and Te Reo (Māori) – have merged. While readers unfamiliar with kiwi expressions may stumble over some of the Māori vocabulary, they also leave no doubt about the society this story is set in.

Dawe’s writing style is fast and vivid, making his readers feel like part of the story. Not many Pākeha men would make the protagonists in their stories Māori and do so believingly without belittling a whole culture. But Dawe pulls it off. The only thing making it obvious that a white man wrote the book, rather than a Māori, is that traditional cultural aspects Te Arepa would have grown up with and which would have informed the way he views the world play a smaller part than they probably should.

Into the River is a brutally honest look at adolescence. Instead of trying to ban this book, maybe parents should openly discuss the issues it addresses with their teens.

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Title: Into the River
Author: Ted Dawe
Publisher: Mangakino University Press
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Pages: 279
ISBN:  978-0473205089

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie #60Books

And Then There Were None is arguably the very best story the Grande Dame of Mystery Fiction, Agatha Christie, has ever written.

Originally published under the title Ten Little Niggers (orTen Little Indians – back then these terms were not yet considered offensive), the story is about ten seemingly unrelated people who are lured to a remote island under false pretences. What starts for some as a holiday, and for others as a job offer, soon turns into a game of life and death.

Handpicked by someone only calling themselves U.N. Owen, these ten people are soon trapped on a barren island with no means back to the mainland and no choice but to wait for a boat.

Central to the story is a poem and the decoration of ten figurines in the house on the island. In some editions it’s called the racial terms that made up the original titles, although more recent editions call the poem “Ten Little Soldiers.” All of the soldiers die or disappear, and one after the other, the figurines disappear, just as another guest turns up dead.

Unlike Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot stories, there is no clever sleuth here to work it out for the reader. No clues are collected or analysed, it’s a race against time for the ten frightened guests who have to work out whether there is a murderer among them or someone else made it to the island. It’s a thrilling read, a page-turner to the very last word that leaves the reader baffled.

This story is THE whodunnit classic. Full of plot twists and red herrings, And Then There Were None stays gripping to the very last page, just as the protagonists stay classy and reserved in true British fashion. Even as the number of suspects decreases, readers are left wondering who the killer is and what their motives are.

Agatha Christie truly is a legend.

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 1, 2003 (First published November 6, 1939)
Pages: 317
ISBN: 978-0007136834

60 Books Challenge

 60 Books Challenge 2016

This reading challenge was put together by Study.Read.Write.

  1. A book written by someone under the age of 25 
  2. A book written by someone over 65 
  3. A book published before 1850 Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  4. A book published this year Hard Red Spring by Kelly Kerney
  5. An anthology 
  6. A book published by an indie press
  7. A book about or by someone who identifies as LGBTQ 
  8. A book that takes place in Asia 
  9. A book written by an Asian author 
  10. A book by an African author 
  11. A book that takes place in Africa 
  12. A book by or about Native Americans 
  13. A book by or about Aborigines 
  14. A Young Adult novel Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sàenz
  15. A sci-fi novel Doctor Who: The Angel’s Kiss by Melody Malone
  16. A National Book Award winning book 
  17. A Man Booker Prize winning book 
  18. A Pulitzer Prize winning book 
  19. A retelling of a classic story Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  20. An audio-book Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion
  21. A book adapted for radio The Gaveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (adapted by BBC)
  22. A book that was recommended to you My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  23. A book originally published in a different language 
  24. A book in a foreign language 
  25. A book you consider a “guilty pleasure” 
  26. A book published the year you were born 
  27. A book with more than 500 pages 
  28. A classic romance 
  29. A book that became a movie Octopussy & The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
  30. A book with a number in the title 
  31. A funny book Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
  32. A mystery or thriller And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  33. An erotic novel Casanova: The Venetian Years by Giacomo Casanova
  34. A book with a one-word title Daredevils by Shawn Vestal
  35. A nonfiction book We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  36. A popular author’s first book 
  37. A book from a favourite author you haven’t read yet 
  38. A book based on a true story Voss by Patrick White
  39. A book from the bottom of your to-read-pile The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  40. A book based on its cover alone The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
  41. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t 
  42. A book with antonyms in the title 
  43. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit 
  44. A trilogy 
  45. A book from your childhood 
  46. A book with a colour in the title 
  47. A book that makes you cry 
  48. A book with magic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  49. A book by an author you’ve never read before The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  50. A book you own but haven’t read How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
  51. A book that takes place in your hometown, state or country 
  52. A play Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
  53. A banned book Into the River by Ted Dawe
  54. A book based on or turned into a TV show Doctor Who: Sleepers in the Dust by Darren Jones
  55. A NaNoWriMo winning novel 
  56. A book your dad loves 
  57. A book your mum loves 
  58. A book your grandparents love/own Xingu by Edith Wharton
  59. A book by an author with your initials  
  60. A book by an author with the same first name