Quick Reads: Under 200 Pages

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I love big books and I cannot lie. But sometimes there’s nothing better than a quick read, a fast-paced story to keep you going. Whether you want something to take away with you on holiday or you’re looking to keep up that Goodreads goal, quick reads work for everyone. Here are a few of my favourites.

Please be aware that the number of pages listed is subject to the edition. 

1.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

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Number of Pages: 188

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourite classics, and a rich and beautiful story too.

2.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Number of Pages: 194

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. – from Goodreads.com

The YA pick of the bunch. Rosoff manages to create such a layered world in such a small amount of pages.

3.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

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Number of Pages: 102

Orwell wrote the novel at the end of 1943, but it almost remained unpublished. Its savage attack on Stalin, at that time Britain’s ally, led to the book being refused by publisher after publisher. Orwell’s simple, tragic fable, telling what happens when the animals drive out Mr Jones and attempt to run the farm themselves, has since become a world-famous classic. – from Goodreads.com

Only just coming up to 100 pages, this novella is simple and easy to read, whilst also having political undertones to make you think.

 4.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Number of Pages: 106

As drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other – and a dream that they will one day have some land of their own. Eventually, they find work on a ranch, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie becomes a victim of his own strength. – from Goodreads.com

Another entry that only just graces 100 pages. Arguably, Steinbeck’s most famous work and the gentle, yet heartbreaking tale of the lengths one goes to for friendship.

5.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Number of Pages: 174

The terrible spectacle of the beast, the fog of the moor, the discovery of a body, this classic horror story pits detective against dog. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the wild Devon moorland with the footprints of a giant hound nearby, the blame is placed on a family curse. It is left to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to solve the mystery of the legend of the phantom hound before Sir Charles’ heir comes to an equally gruesome end. – from Goodreads.com

One of four Sherlock Holmes novels, but by no means the shortest. In some editions, A Study in Scarlet is only 108 pages!

So this concludes my top five list of quick reads under 200 pages! Are any of these in your favourites list? Or do you have a few recommendations for me to read in time for my next quick reads post? Let me know in the comments!

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Great Reads: Dystopia

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The dystopia genre has become increasingly popular thanks to the likes of The Hunger Games and the Divergent Series. Many authors have followed in their book-ish footsteps, some riding on the coattails of the dream, and others being established in their own right. I’ll be giving you a comprehensive top five list of great dystopia reads for you to get your teeth into.

These books are in no particular order.

1

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

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Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. – from Goodreads.com

This was probably the first dystopia I ever read, and I didn’t even realise it was a dystopia! This collection of books were exciting and action packed beyond belief. A really good starting point for someone looking to get into the dystopia genre.

2

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. – from Goodreads.com

This book perfectly captures not only the horrors of World War but also the hope for a better life that comes afterwards. Besides, who wouldn’t want to hole up in an idyllic house in the countryside? Me, please!

3

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. – from Goodreads.com

I was a bit skeptical at first upon reading the synopsis for this book, as I thought it would all be a bit obvious. However, I really, really enjoyed reading Uglies and thought the world that Westerfeld created was very vivid. It’s a book that gives a great message and is a well developed dystopia too.

4

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

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In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. – from Goodreads.com

In the short time it took to read this book, I was in a perpetual state of disgust and fascination. There most disconcerting thing about this novel was that this could definitely be our future! That is a very, very scary thought.

5

Never Let Me Go by Kauzo Ishiguro

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As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. – from Goodreads.com

I never thought of this book as a dystopia, but it is set in the future and a strange one at that. It oddly mirrors the world we know today except with the appearance of clones. It certainly makes a comment on how we live our lives and what it means to be human.

So these are my list of great reads for the dystopia genre. Have you read any of these? Or do you have a few you’d like to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top 10 Young Adult Book to Movie Adaptations

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I’ve already counted down my favourite YA standalones and series, so it only seems fitting to count down those that have been made into films. Most successful YA authors usually sell the rights to their books pretty quickly, but some get shelved for years before production gets underway. Having said that, the popularity of adapting YA has increased in the recent years. Some we can see why, and some we probably wished had stayed shelved.

It would be very easy to examine which films were closely adapted from page to screen, but using that template sometimes doesn’t always make a good film. I’ll be trying to take into account not only the “adapting” part of the film process, but also what makes the end product a great film in it’s own right.

I’m also deciding not to include the Harry Potter films in this list because they would take up eight of the ten! Don’t forget, I’ll only include films I’ve seen and can vouch for.

These are the books that have gone from page to screen, counting down from ten to one.

10

How I Live Now

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An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her. – from IMDb

As with most adaptations, a lot from the book gets lost/cut in the translation. Osbert was written out, and a certain character death was added in, but these are small prices to pay for seeing our beloved books getting worldwide success. How I Live Now is an excellent film, and a brilliant re-imagining of the original.

9

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

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As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance. – from IMDb

As I said in my 2015 film wrap up, I had a few issues with the final Hunger Games film. In my opinion, the film was too closely adapted from the book (which I wasn’t a fan of), and a lot of things didn’t make sense. Having said that, it was a brilliant action movie and good installment to a fantastic series!

8

Insurgent

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Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side. – from IMDb

Once again, as I said in my 2015 film wrap up, Insurgent was a difficult book to adapt. It’s so fast paced which allows the reader to fly through the narrative, but on film can look messy. A lot of changes were made to try and accommodate the nature of the book. Some say it worked, some disagree. For me, it was still pretty exciting to see my favourite book from the series be adapted into film.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. – from IMDb

For some, this may be the least popular Hunger Games film, but for me it perfectly captures the calm before the storm. Katniss spends a lot of time underground with District 13, and for me this is where the real revolution begins and we see Katniss, not only have a personal journey, but also she her turn from tribute to victory to Mockingjay!

6

Paper Towns

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After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime. – from IMDb

Another one I’m repeating from my 2015 wrap up is Paper Towns, John Green’s second venture into the world of cinema. I really enjoyed the adaptation, and I loved that the production decided to stay true to the themes of the book and not give into Hollywood. Bravo! The chemistry between all the actors and actresses that worked on the film really made it special to watch.

And now for my top five:

5

The Hunger Games

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Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. – from IMDb

Yes, the original Hunger Games movie starts off the top five with a bang. It’s a wonderful adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s book, who puts Katniss in the arena for the first time to fight for her life.

4

The Fault in Our Stars

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Two teenage cancer patients begin a life-affirming journey to visit a reclusive author in Amsterdam. – from IMDb

The first John Green adaptation that got the ball rolling for Paper Towns. I don’t think this film could have been more perfect, the casting, the narrative, the soundtrack, everything. I came away feeling incredibly satisfied.

3

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. – from IMDb

I know what you must be thinking. Why is the second Hunger Games movie higher than the first? For me, Catching Fire is the best Hunger Games movie. I know it draws similarities from the first film, as we see Katniss and the gang go back into the arena, but for me, everything was bigger and better.

2

Divergent

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In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late. – from IMDb

When Divergent dropped, many people wrote it off as a Hunger Games Wannabe, but after the movie was made, it established Roth’s faction-based dystopia in it’s own right. I absolutely loved the book and film version of Divergent, and the adaptation between the two was seamless.

1

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. – from IMDb

Perks is my number one book to movie adaptations. I’m not sure whether it’s because Stephen Chbosky wrote the book and the screenplay, or if it’s because Charlie’s story is one that touches us all right in the feels. But there’s something about this book/film combo that speaks to all the wallflowers inside of us.

And that concludes my top ten list of young adult book to movie adaptations. Do you agree? Have I left any off the list you would consider worthy of a title? Let me know down in the comments.

Top 10 Young Adult Standalones

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I have read many fantastic young adult books over my time, and many not so fantastic, but today we’re going to focus on the positives and examine my top ten favourite young adult books I’ve read so far.

These books are in no particular order.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. – from Goodreads.com

Both Stephen Chbosky’s book and film are very near and dear to my heart. He manages to sum up perfectly what in England we call an “inbetween-er” and express feelings I couldn’t find the words to say myself.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Miles “Pudge” Halter is abandoning his safe-okay, boring-life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Pudge becomes encircled by friends whose lives are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is razor-sharp, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska, who has perfected the arts of pranking and evading school rules. Pudge falls impossibly in love. When tragedy strikes the close-knit group, it is only in coming face-to-face with death that Pudge discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally. – from Goodreads.com

In May 2011 I picked this book up second-hand in Budapest for less than a British pound. I read it practically in one sitting and fell in love. I had been yearning for something to express all the feelings and unanswered questions I had surrounding the death of my father, and reading this book felt like coming home. It has become my holy grail YA, my go-to recommendation and what made me realise WHY I wanted to be a writer. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids. But Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? – from Goodreads.com

I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. I needed Rainbow Rowell to write a book detailing my life in online Fandom, how it laid the foundations for my writing career, allowed me to talk to others about the books/films that I loved, and how it gave me more confidence to be myself and not be ashamed of my obsessions. A must-read for anyone who has spent time online, written fan fiction, and ship-ed characters into OTP-dom.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – from Goodreads.com

 I don’t think I’ve met someone who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars (commonly shortened to TFioS). If you want a tear-jerking story that will fill your heart with sadness and happiness in equal measure then this is the book for you. I felt physically hungover after reading this book, but don’t let that stop you from immersing yourself in the delectable story of  Hazel and Augustus.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of the most important books I’ve read on rape culture. (Don’t shout at me. (Not) Asking for It by Louise O’Neill is on my TBR!) Written lyrically and beautifully, we are taken on Mel’s journey as she narrates her own internal monologue and eventually has to face up to the truth of that night. 

Paper Towns by John Green

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Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… – from Goodreads.com

 A cat and mouse chase-type road trip full of fun and friendships. This novel poses some really important questions, especially since the rise in popularity of social media, and the lines between virtual reality are becoming more and more blurred.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman

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Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. – from Goodreads.com

Poetic, vivid and expertly written, this novel, complete with beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman, narrates Min’s journey as she details all the reasons why she broke up with charismatic jock Ed.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. – from Goodreads.com

Thrilling, exciting and completely engaging. This breakout novel from Jay Asher makes it’s mark on the young adult genre and is a must-read for any readers looking for a book full of mystery and intrigue.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. – from Goodreads.com

Another gripping read from one of my almost-auto-buy authors E Lockhart. With a massive twist at the end that is set to make your head spin, it’s impossible not to envision this as a film in the coming years.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way. – from Goodreads.com

This book is as electrifying as it sounds. It breaks the mould of the dystopian genre and a becomes one-of-a-kind book that leaves you wondering about the future of our world, and draws you into a love story as delicious as the idyllic farm where Daisy and Ed’s romance is born.

That concludes my top ten young adult standalone books. Are there any you’ve read that missed the short list? Which books do you agree are worthy of a recommendation? Let me know in the comments.