February 28, 2017

February Wrap-Up

Hello, everyone! It's been a while, but I've finally decided to post a monthly wrap-up. In this post I'll let you know of my reading and the progress on my reading challenges. February was a good month, as I read some pretty interesting books. I only hope that my luck with the novels I'm reading will continue.

First of all, let's see what I posted in February:

Now let's see how my reading progressed:
  1. Finished
  1. Currently Reading

Secrets of a Summer Night is a historical romance novel, the first instalment of the Wallflowers series. In my reading challenge February was the month that I had to read a romance novel, and so I have successfully completed it. As for the main challenge, this month I've checked out the collection of short stories by reading the book Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman.

Reading Plans for March

In March, I plan on finishing Ethan Frome, the book that will check out the classic book  from my reading challenge. As for the monthly challenge, the theme is horror, and I've decided to read Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill.

As for future posts you'll have to look for in the blog, are reviews of The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman, and Ethan Frome. You can also expect some Weeckies, one of which will most definitely be Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang. 

February 27, 2017

The Reading Book Post, February 27th

The Reading Book Post - literary news

Hello, everyone! We've reached the end of February. I know that this a literary news segments, but let's face it: the talk of the day is the Oscars! I was rooting for Arrival, at least for the category of best adapted screenplay. It was based on Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life (look for it in an upcoming Weeckies). Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • Darya Shnykina has won the Book Illustration Competition. Her drawings have been selected to illustrated a new edition of Mansfield Park from The Folio Society. How I love book illustrations!

  • Did you love Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng? You can now read an excert and see the cover from her upcoming novel. Little Fires Everywhere will hit the shelves on September 12th, 2017.

  • A new Avengers TV anime and manga is coming to Japan! Marvel Future Avengers will debut in the summer season, while the manga adaptation is set to appear in the April issue of Bessatsu Coro Coro Comics Special magazine.

  • A long lost novel written by Walt Whitman was found! It's a 36,000 word serialized story, named Life and Adventures of Jack Engle. The story was last seen in print 165 year ago!

  • Tom Hanks, the beloved actor, will publish his first short story collection. The collection contains 17 short stories, is called Uncommon Type and is due on October 24, 2017.

  • New words were added to the Oxford Dictionaries. Those are the words clicktivism, haterade, otherize, and herd mentality. None of those is a positive one!

  • If you love tea, and books, then you need these literary teas! The best thing about them in the book-shaped tin package. I just love it! 

  • Which Fairy Tale Was Actually Written About You? Take the quiz to find out! I got Little Red Riding Hood, how about you?

February 25, 2017

Review: ICO - Castle in the Mist, by Miyuki Miyabe

Title: ICO - Castle in the Mist

Author: Miyuki Miyabe

Publisher: Haikasoru

Date of Publication: August 16th, 2011 (first published in 2005)

Number of Pages: 370


When a boy named Ico grows long curved horns overnight, his fate has been sealed - he is to be sacrificed in the Castle in the Mist. But in the castle, Ico meets a young girl named Yorda imprisoned in its halls. Alone they will die, but together Ico and Yorda might just be able to defy their destinies and escape the magic of the castle.


This is definitely one of the most special book cases I've encountered so far. In case you didn't recognise this cover, this is a book adaptation of the PlayStation 2 game ICO. I am aware that this is a popular game and there definitely will be some who have actually played it (and loved it). But there also will be some of you who haven't even heard about it. Having said that this book was a must for me as well as for the video games to books challenge, being an ICO adaptation. I would even gladly read a Shadow of the Colossus adaptation, and even one of the most recent one The Last Guardian. Yes, this team creates interesting games, with touching stories that in the hands of skillful writers can become great books. Having said all that, ICO - Castle in the Mist lives up to the expectations that this video game has set.

Ico is a young boy, who is unlucky enough to be born with horns in his head. This means that he a sacrifice and in a certain age he has to go to the Castle in the Mist, never to leave again. Nobody knows what happens to the sacrifaces there, not even anyone wants to talk about it. So, Ico is resigned to his fate and goes to this castle. There he meets a mysterious girl, Yorda, who is also trapped in this castle. Every time she touches the young boy he sees images of times long gone, and bit by bit the story of the forbidding castle is revealed. The only way for Ico and Yorda to survive is to trust each other and cooperate. But will they be able to win the Queen and lift the curse from the Castle in the Mist?

Ico - Castle in the MistJust from this decription it's plain to see the plot of this book is that of a pure fantasy novel. It's a battle against evil. It really has all the elements that makes such a story great. A young protagonist who can't really understand what is happening to him, another young protagonist who really tries to break free from the evil that has bound her all those years, it has visions of the past, it has a menacing villain and her minions, it has the discovery of a long forgotten book which describes the way that the curse can be lifted, it even has the death of a dear friend.

But what does this novel actually add to the story, if you've played the video game before? Well, for one it's interesting to see the two different points of view. In the first and the last chapter we follow Ico. In this way, we learn what he feels and we learn what he thinks. This is a big deal, as in the game he doesn't use any actual words. We get his backstory and so we feel about him. Ico - Castle in the Mist doesn't begin from that dark room in the castle as in the video game. It rather begins on the village where Ico grew up. There is also a very interesting chapter from Yorda's point of view. She has a flashback where all of her memories come back to her and we learn everything about the Queen and her pact with the Dark God.

The ending doesn't change at all from the video game. It all ends in the beach where Ico meets Yorda again. I liked it very much. It leaves room for hope and I can't help guessing what they would have done. Would Ico return to Toksa village with Yorda? Could he restore the horned-men's reputation? I could almost see the possibility of a sequel here.
The other thing that I really liked in this version of the story is the description of the places. Having seen them before, it was natural to expect them to be described in some way. Miyuki Miyabe managed to bring all of the familiar sceneries with great detail. But it was never tiring. When the language tends to be descriptive I normally lose my interest, but this isn't the case with Ico - Castle in the Mist. The language is indeed descriptive in this book, but somehow it's full of tension and I couldn't put it down. Plus, what the castle really does is add more elements to the epic atmosphere.

The thing that was a little lacking in this novel was actually the one that I never imagined it would. I'm talking about the action. There were time when Yorda was in danger by those mysterious creatures-minions, but Ico always found a way to fight them easily. The final battle with the Queen felt rash. It was like Ico followed a predestined root, the kind you'd a expect a player would follow after watching a walkthrough video.

Ico - Castle in the MistAlso, one of the things that made Ico such a unique game was the holding of the hands. You literary run around this castle with Yorda holding hands! In this novel, this wasn't the case. I mean, of course there were moments that they held theirs hands, but it was only used when Ico needed to see a vision from the past, and just then.

Overally, Ico - Castle in the Mist is a great adaptation. It's a fantasy novel at its roots and it doesn't disappoint. This is a rare case for books that come from video games, and it certainly can be read by anyone. Even if you haven't  heard of this video game before but you like fantasy then you're going to love it!

In this case, it's a tie between the video game and book adaptation. So, the score becomes:


February 22, 2017

Play(list) by the Book: The Handmaid's Tale

Hello, everyone! By now it's no secret that Play(list) by the Book is one of my favourite things to create. I just love finding out all those musical, and sometimes lyrical, references in the novel that I read. And it's even more delightful when I do find such references in books that I didn't really expect to find some in them, like The Handmaid's Tale. Let's face it: when you read Haruki Murakami, Nick Hornby, or David Mitchell, you know that there will be a lot of songs mentioned in the book. But when I started reading The Handmaid's Tale, I never expected to find familiar songs and lyrics in this dystopian setting. But there it is! It might not be a lengthy playlist, but it still is. I hope you'll enjoy it!

As usual the rules are the same. Every song and artist that is mentioned in the book goes in the playlist. Every lyric that is mentioned, qualifies the song for the playlist. In this one, I added the Lithuanian folk song (Vai Aukštai Lakia Klevelio Lapeliai), not because it was mentioned but because there was a tape found with the title Folk Songs from Lithuania. I thought that it would be fit for such a song to be included here.

Find more playlists at: Play(list) by the Book
Radio Show: Play(list) by the Book

February 20, 2017

The Reading Book Post, February 20th

The Reading Book Post - with the most interesting literary news of the previous week

Hello, everyone! I have to admit that so far I've been lucky with my reading. Since the beginning of 2017 I've read some amazing novels, like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and I'm currently reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I only hope that I'll be just as lucky in the months to come. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week (so many exciting news!).

  • This is the first and biggest (and most exciting, to be honest) news of this week: Philip Pullman has announced The Book of Dust trilogy. This trilogy will be set in the world of his much beloved His Dark Materials trilogy (actually Lyra will be featured in two of the three new books) and I can't hide how much I'm happy about it! The first book of the new trilogy is yet to be named, but we already know that it's due on 19 October 2017. I've already marked my calendar!

  • The next exciting news of this week concerns one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite books, Neil Gaiman and his novel Neverwhere. 20 years after the publication of Neverwhere, the author has announced that he's writing the sequel. The book will be called The Seven Sisters, but we know nothing else about it yet.   

  • MISFIT CITY is the new monthly comic book series by BOOM! imprint, written by the screen writer Kirster "Kiwi" Smith and Kurt Lustgarten, and art by Naomi Franquiz. It sounds pretty interesting because of its Goonies inspired setting and plot (just look at the first cover). The series will hit the shelves in May 2017.

  • Adorableness alert! How about some comics with Funko versions of very popular characters, like Ghostbusters, and The X-Files? To be more precise, this May will be published five one-shot comic books with Funko-fied heros. The books will be Ghostbuster, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The X-Files, Strawberry Shortcake, and Judge Dredd 

  • Until recently the only way to find out what Marcel Proust looked like was through one of his photographs. But a Canadian professor claims that he has discovered some footage with the French writer. It's a black-and-white video from a marriage that took place in 1904. 

  • Mr. Darcy, a name - many feels! The fictional man responsible for all of our unrealistic expectation of men. But did he actually look like Colin Firth (because let's face it we all have his image in mind)? Look what Mr. Darcy would actually look like in 1790. I'm not shocked, he'd actually still be good-looking.

  • Oh, how I love to listen to actors read stories! It doesn't matter if it's Tom Hardy reading a bedtime story, or Benedict Cumberbatch reading just anything, I absolutely love it. Today I'm sharing with you a video featuring Zach Galifianakis reading the story Next Big Thing, written by Gibby Haines. It's a little scary though, so listen to it with the lights on!

  • Which Dark Fantasy World Do You Belong In? Take the quiz to find out! I got Ink by Alice Broadway, which world did you get?