6 books to read before they become TV series

Do you love TV series? Are you a bookworm? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then 2018 will be a good year for you. Bookish TV series are on the rise, and there will be plenty coming out this year for us to pick from. We must proceed with caution though, as many great books fell victim to screen adaptation over the past years. I still refuse to talk about the horror of watching the movie version of The Dark Tower. Just… Nope…

TV series are usually a safer way to bring life to our beloved stories. I loved the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and the series that came out last year with the same title was absolutely amazing, painting an even more terrifying picture than the book by expanding the plots of the secondary characters.

If you are anything like me, you will most likely want to read the book before watching the first episode of the show. You know, just so you can have enough ammunition to rage about later, that the book was better.

So let’s see what is waiting for those of us who love thrillers, sci-fi and a bit of weirdness.

Good Omens
Based on the 1990 novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman the TV series will follow the story of a demon and a fussy angel (both living amongst mortals) who are trying to prevent the coming of the antichrist and the ensuing battle between Heaven and Earth.
Guess who’s playing Crowley, the demon. David Tennant, that’s who. Love it! There’s no official release date, but according to IMDB we can expect it in 2019.

Altered CarbonThis juicy sci-fi, set in the 25th century, tells the story of Takeshi Kovacs, a soldier from an elite group of warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. Even though Kovacs was also killed, his consciousness and skills are downloaded (a.k.a. re-sleeved) into the body of a thug. This action and violence packed series, starring Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs, will come out in February, 2018.
The series is based on Richard K. Morgan’s book with the same title, published in 2006.
A must for fans of the cyberpunk genre!

Sharp ObjectsGillian Flynn’s book, Sharp Objects is a delicious treat for anyone craving something dark and disturbing.
Camille Preaker, a journalist, returns to her hometown in Missouri, to investigate the murder of two young girls. If this wouldn’t be upsetting enough, staying in her parents’ house brings back unpleasant memories from her own childhood, and she’s forced to confront her own demons that led her down the path of self harm for years.
The show, starring Amy Adams and Chris Messina, is coming this summer.

The City & The CityBased on the multi award-winning novel by China Miéville, the series follows Inspector Tyador Borlú on his investigation of a murdered student whose body was found in the decaying city of Besźel. As evidence starts piling up, suggesting deadly conspiracies, the Inspector has to travel to Ul Quoma, the only metropolis on Earth.
China Miéville describes his own work as “weird fiction”, so if weird is your thing, don’t miss out on this one.

Instinct
This new police procedural series, starring Alan Cumming as Professor Dylan Reinhart, is based on Murder Games by James Patterson. Professor Reinhart is a criminal behavior professor who ends up helping Detective Elizabeth Needham, the NYPD detective in charge of investigating a serial killer case. The only clue linking the victims is a playing card left behind on the scene, hinting at the next target.
It’s coming in March, so you should still have time to finish the book before the show hits the screen.

You
You by Caroline Kepnes is yet another gem for those of us who enjoy exploring the depths of a twisted mind.
The show follows Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager, who becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck whom he met in his bookstore. The stalker turned boyfriend orchestrates the perfect plan to remove all obstacles that stand in their way.
The release date has not been announced yet.

Have you read all these books yet? TV adaptations yey or nay?

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Published: 26th April, 2016
Goodreads
Series: The Collector #1
Rating: 3.5

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…


Dark. Creepy. Disturbing. I very much enjoyed the writing style, and how the author constantly played on our fear of the unknown.

Maya, the survivor, is an enigma herself. As the interrogation goes along, FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison grow more and more frustrated. With good reason, I would say. I loved the dynamic between these two; Hanoverian being the patient, fatherly figure, perfectly complemented by the explosive Eddison, who started banging his fist on the table not even ten minutes into the interview. I’m with you, dude… The more you find out from Maya (and let me tell you, it’s like pulling teeth), the more puzzled they get about her role in the garden. She’s cool as a cucumber, people. Not what you expect from your everyday kidnap victim, for sure.

There are a lot of great things in this book, if you can suspend your disbelief. The way the chapters switch between the present day, where we know Maya has escaped, and her time in the garden just keeps the pressure up constantly. The characters are great. Every single butterfly from the garden has a unique personality, and the Gardener (notice how he doesn’t even have a name) is super ominous.

If it weren’t for the “shocking twist” at the end, I would have liked this book much more. I found certain elements somewhat unbelievable, but then reminded myself that poor butterflies are basically teenagers, and probably shitting their pants too much to actually think straight. Mental and physical abuse does that to people. But it seems the author just had to throw in a plot twist, just for the sake of it, because people love plot twists, don’t they, even when it’s super “duh”. Well… Nope.

This book is not for everyone. It’s violent, graphic, and downright nasty, but I guess it’s just expected, when you decide to pick up a book about some obsessed guy, who kidnaps a bunch of young women and keeps them captive for his own entertainment.

The trouble with sociopaths, really, is that you never know where they draw their boundaries.

P. S. I also wanted to show you some of the international book covers. They are seriously pretty!

Bulgaria
Estonia
Poland
Slovakia

Get The Butterfly Garden (The Collector Trilogy) on Amazon UK.

Reading Prompt: A book that involves a bookstore or library #39

According to the diploma I obtained at uni, I’m a librarian. I mean, information scientist, to be precise. Although I have always dreamed about working in a library, spending time among books, I’ve never actually had a job in one. Based on all the stories I’ve read involving librarians, I probably romanticized the idea way too much.

Part of one my uni assignments was to spend sixty hours in our town’s library, and damn, was it awful! I admit, I probably wouldn’t have hated it so much if I got a placement in a nicely equipped library, packed full with all the latest tech, but the lack of working equipment and the constant darkness (the building was an old synagogue) put me off pretty well. We still used those old school index catalogues that were basically little printed index cards in a massive chest of drawers. Good luck finding shit! Before anyone quips in that it was perfectly acceptable in the ’80s, let me make one thing clear: we are talking about 2007.

So, for now I’m just going to stick to books about librarians and quirky little bookstores, where my sentimental ideas live on uninterrupted.

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard
A mystery set in Coppenhagen. After the violent death of Luca Campelli his son, Jon, inherits Luca’s bookshop Libri di Luca, and all sorts of suspicious stuff starts happening.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Danger, clues, secret societies are only a few things Irene, a spy for the mysterious Library, will face in this story while collecting books from other realities.

Adrian Mole: The Capuccino Years by Sue Townsend
Adrian Mole, whom we first met when he was 13 and 3/4 years old, is now all grown up and is working in a book shop. He still writes his diary, and he’s still an annoyingly funny intellectual. I have read this book many times, but I’m tempted to pick it up again.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Lydia, a bookstore clerk, investigates the death of a customer after she inherits his books filled with mysterious and disturbing messages.

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
Jess Brightwell, son of a black market book smuggler, is sent to apply for a scholar position at the Library, where they value knowledge more than human life.

Boy, do I love stats – 2017

The end is nigh, my fellow readers, and it’s time to take tally of this year’s accomplishments. No, the apocalypse is not coming, but 2018 is just around the corner.

Without further ado, let’s see my year in books.

Until this day I don’t know how, but I managed to finish 65 books this year. Before anyone suggest I should get a life, I must say, I do most of my reading during holidays, and at work, in my lunchbreak. Having developed some kind of weird insomnia could also be blamed – I rarely sleep past 5.30 a.m., so I have plenty of time in the mornings too before I have to make the ten minute trip to the office.

The best book I’ve read this year was definitely The Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi), and you have to appreciate how hard it is for me to say this, because I did read a book from Stephen King as well, and he’s my one true love.

Worst book of the year goes to Say You’re Sorry (Melinda Leigh). What a fucking mess that was…

The longest read was The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss) with a whopping 994 pages, and it was also the highest rated on Goodreads.

 

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genres: Fantasy
Published: 25th July, 2017
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 4

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.
Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.?
Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.
When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.


There is just something about Russian folk tales, that gives you the creeps. In a good way! This book is not one of those folk tales, per se, but does have all the magical elements that make one.

The Fifth Doll is a pretty neat, spooky tale set in a cutesy little village that is just a little bit too cheerful for its own good. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you guessed right. Everything.

I wouldn’t call this book suspenseful, but there’s just something that keeps you turning the pages to try and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the villagers. I must admit, I had all sorts of ideas what’s wrong with them, but none of them turned out to be the case.

 

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A little bit after halfway I even thought they are all dead or something… Damn…


 

I could not agree with those reviews that said the characters are flat an uninteresting. Maybe a little bit dopey, but hey, it all made perfect sense at the end!

Matrona, the main character is a bit immature for a 26 year old most of the time, but every now and then her potential shines through and she proves that she’s wise beyond her years. Or at least wiser than I was at that age.

I’ve always wanted to be loved. I don’t know if Esfir’s passing closed my parents’ hearts, or if it’s just their way, but affection has always been lacking in my home. I fear it’s lacking in yours as well. I can’t be part of that.

Damn, girl, you tell him! Love it.

I loved Jaska, her sidekick. Shit doesn’t make sense? Let’s consider all our options, even the wildest ones! He’s openminded, loyal and quick witted. If I had a side kick, I would sure want them to be someone like him.

I will most definitely read some more from this author.

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday by Nicci French
Genres: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Published: 23rd June, 2011
Goodreads
Series: Frieda Klein #1
Rating: 2

The stunning first book in a new series of psychological thrillers introducing an unforgettable London psychotherapist Frieda Klein is a solitary, incisive psychotherapist who spends her sleepless nights walking along the ancient rivers that have been forced underground in modern London. She believes that the world is a messy, uncontrollable place, but what we can control is what is inside our heads. This attitude is reflected in her own life, which is an austere one of refuge, personal integrity, and order.

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, Frieda cannot ignore the coincidence: one of her patients has been having dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A red-haired child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew. She finds herself in the center of the investigation, serving as the reluctant sidekick of the chief inspector.

Drawing readers into a haunting world in which the terrors of the mind have spilled over into real life, “Blue Monday” introduces a compelling protagonist and a chilling mystery that will appeal to readers of dark crime fiction and fans of “In Treatment” and “The Killing.”


I just don’t get this book… There was a lot going on, but hardly anything actually happening in the first half. It was meant to be a story about a child kidnapping and the surrounding investigation, involving a psychotherapist. Sounds great, no? Well, that poor child was barely mentioned, he was more like an afterthought people every now and then remembered to mention in the background.

A strange mood enveloped the room where they sat, dreamy and sad.

And that strange and sad mood spilled our all over the whole story. The atmosphere was great. London at its most depressing. But there were just too many moments of staring out windows, sitting around tables and walks at 3 a.m.

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist, or, according to her sister in law some kind of a doctor with a bunch of stuff after her name. But she’s also turned out to be a technophobe, Christmas-hater, miserable moron who is scared to be happy.

In fact, it had only been in the last year that she had finally bought an answering machine and she steadfastly refused to have a mobile, to the incredulity of all those around her, who didn’t believe that people could actually function without one. But Frieda wanted to be able to escape from incessant communications and demands.

Because having a mobile means having to be glued to it, doesn’t it? You can’t, like… heaven forbid, put it away or turn it off, can you?

Great start for someone who is supposed to be there for people to help putting their lives back together, right? But her constant negativity would put a damper on any happy person.

‘What am I doing this summer, you mean? I should warn you that I hate flying. And sunbathing on beaches.’

Yes, Frieda, we get it, everything’s shit. But we have no clue why, so it’s just annoying, sorry. I sometimes wondered if she even likes anything, apart from munching on toast in front of the fireplace.

There were quite a few pointless characters. Starting with Sandy, the boyfriend. What for? Poor dude appeared a few times, just so we get it that Frieda is afraid of commitment. I almost started feeling sorry for her that she’s taking so long to trust someone and not staying overnight or letting them come to her place, when the dude dropped a bombshell (new job, moving overseas) and turned out they know each other for some weeks only. WTF?

 

 

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Yet, he also thought it was a great idea to suggest she moves with him, and then when didn’t work, to suggest they get married. But sure, he’s the great, reliable dude, isn’t he.

 

 

Jack, Frieda’s student-protege-trainee whatever was another one of these people who just hung around to basically explain the obvious. Josef, the Ukranian dude who drove Frieda around, cooked meals for her and was perpetually confused because he didn’t bloody understand half the time what anyone was talking about and basic words had to be explained to him. Duh. Have they become friends? Fuck knows…

I did like Chief Inspector Karlsson though. A cool dude, who is trying his best. He at least resembled something we’d call a reasonable person.

Since this series is mainly about Frieda, I doubt I will read the next book.

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Published: 17th May, 2007
Goodreads
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Rating: 4

A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.


This one took me almost a bloody week to finish! Not because it’s bad, quite the opposite. It’s a beautifully written, melancholic story, disguised as a murder mystery. There’s a murder, there are detectives and investigation, but there’s also an unsolved mystery from the past, involving Rob, one of the main characters.

After having quite a few bad experiences with books where I couldn’t care less about any of the characters, this was so refreshing! Both detectives, Cassie and Rob were like real people I would actually want to get to know. Mostly Cassie, but still…

Cassie Madoxx is the only woman in the current murder squad, and if that’s not enough, she’s younger than most of the guys. So obviously she’s the target of all sorts of speculations, how she got there, and who did she sleep with. I loved how straight to point she was, and her determination is admirable. Throughout the story she was the voice of reason in the deepening confusion Rob was going through.

Contrary to appearances, Cassie is not a particularly social person, any more than I am; she is vivacious and quick with banter and can talk to anyone, but given the choice she preferred my company to that of a big group.

Rob Ryan is the somewhat unrealistic narrator. His your typical good looking guy (and he knows it), with a proper accent and great style.

I have a perfect BBC accent, picked up at boarding-school as protective camouflage, and all that colonisation takes a while to wear off: even though the Irish will cheer for absolutely any team playing against England, and I know a number of pubs where I couldn’t order a drink without risking a glass to the back of the head, they still assume that anyone with a stiff upper lip is more intelligent, better educated and generally more likely to be right.

As the story goes on, he becomes more and more insufferable and kind of an asshole. You know the guys who are super cool, but then when you get real close they just up and disappear and it’s your fault? Yeah, those guys… Every now and then I just wanted to reach into the book and shake him, while being utterly conflicted for feeling sorry him as well.

There is a side of me that is most intensely attracted to women who annoy me.

Investigating a child murder is obviously not a walk in the park, but the detective duo come out worse than I could have imagined. Besides the investigation, this book tells the story of the sort of friendship between Rob and Cassie that most people would envy.

Even though the wrap up left me hanging (the original mystery never got solved, WTF??, *gasp*), it made me crave more of Tana French’s books. Took a sneak peak at the second one and can’t wait to see what Cassie is up to next.

Also, where the fuck was I in the last 10 years? I mean… I’ve clearly been living under some rock…

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Published: 1st June, 2017 (Thomas & Mercer)
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


Well, this one was pretty good! I quite liked the idea of the book within the book (Charlotte’s half finished novel as a clue to her murder).

Can’t say the same thing about having to read some dialogues and scenarios twice because suddenly the story switched to the killer’s point of view. The fact that the identity of the murderer was quite obvious early on did not bother me. It was actually quite interesting, seeing how he behaves and trying to figure out what his motives were.

 

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That said, the killer going after Ella, and plotting her murder to tie up the loose ends, that were not even loose at the point he came up with this brilliant idea, was a bit over the top. I kept thinking “But what the hell for? Just chill, dude!”

 

To be fair the reason why he killed poor Charlotte is nothing earth shattering, and other reviewers marked this up on the negative side, but having watched tons and tons of true crime documentaries I know sometimes the motives for real murders are just plain stupid, and frankly disappointing.

From the book description the main character, Ella, sounded pretty interesting. I imagined her double life will be a big part of the story. Kind of like imagined something along the lines of Gipsy, the series I saw recently about this therapist who lives a proper double life with fake identity and a lot of subterfuge. Nothing like this happened here though. Apart from singing once in a club under a different name and some lipstick on, it was not mentioned again, and even the main character admitted, anyone who’ve ever met her would know straight away that it’s her. (Couldn’t help but think of Ron Swanson / Duke Silver… I’ll see myself out).

According to the bio the author is a practicing lawyer, and I must say, all the lawyer talk was nicely done, in a no-bullshit fashion. I actually look forward to reading more stories from him.

P.S. Loved the fact that the main characters are 5″2 (like me) and not some six foot tall amazons!