50 Book Challenge 2015 (part 1)

I was in two minds about whether I wanted to participate in a reading challenge this year, especially one with such a high book count. The reason I decided to bite the bullet and join in again for 2015, is mainly because I have so much holiday time owing to me this year. One of my favourite things to do while on holiday is read, and I think this will help motivate me to make the most of my free reading time this year. I’m currently on holidays, and have spent quite a lot of time reading. So much so, that I’m already ahead in my reading challenge. Very exciting! Here’s what I’ve read this year so far –

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (8/10) – It took me a little while to get stuck into this book, but once I did I really enjoyed it. J.K. Rowling has a knack for creating characters with real warmth and depth, and writing under Robert Galbraith has definitely not robbed her of that skill. If you like a good murder mystery and enjoy reading books that instantly transport you (in your mind’s eye, of course) to London, I would suggest picking this up.

The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin (3/10) – This was my first book club book for 2015, and I listened to it on Audible (audiobooks are great if you have a long commute to/from work like I do, and you’ve already listened to Taylor Swift’s album so many times that you now you kind of hate it). I think I had expectations of this book that weren’t fulfilled, because it really disappointed me. I’m fine with books remaining open-ended, if it seems that there was some purpose to the story as a whole, but this just didn’t do it for me. Despite this, I’m still excited to discuss it at our next book club meeting, especially after discovering that it’s based on a true story.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (5/10) – Em over at Em For Marvelous mentioned this book in a post last year, and it sounded quite interesting so I added it to my Goodreads to-read list. I had a chance to pick it up at my local library at the beginning of the year, and I got stuck into it right away. I actually found it really hard to get invested in this story, which is something that seems to happen when plots span a long timeline, and the story jumps back and forth every few chapters. I did, however, really enjoy the ballet element of this book. So much so that I had a strong urge to watch Black Swan again (which is still a great movie, if you’re wondering).

The Raft by S. A. Bodeen (2/10) – I really didn’t have very high expectations for this book, I knew it would be a quick and easy YA read and in that regard I wasn’t disappointed. I love a good ‘castaway’ style story, and this was good in that regard. Everything else about it was pretty average, and way too many animals died for my liking.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega (7/10) – I really enjoyed this book. I remember Kimberley saying she really enjoyed it when she read it last year, and now I know why. This is YA done really well. None of the characters are annoying, the story flows well, and there is something of a resolution at the end of the book. I was picturing this whole story playing out in my mind while reading it, and I feel like it’d make for a really good movie or TV series. Is this going to be a series of books? It should be. I’m so lazy, I should probably google it myself. I’d suggest picking this up if you’re in the mood for a well written but easy YA read. Also if you like your books slightly on the creepy side.

December Giveaway #5 – Books!

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to host a giveaway at the end of each year of a selection of books that I deem my favourites of the year. It was pretty hard for me to narrow down my list this year, which is a good thing of course. Nevertheless, I managed to whittle down the list, and decided that my four favourite books from 2014 were: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Intensity by Dean Koontz, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, and In The Blood by Lisa Unger. For a chance to win one of these four titles, simply leave a comment below telling me which book you’d be interested in winning! Please note that this giveaway is open internationally. Entries close at midnight on January 22nd 2015 and the winners will be announced on January 23rd 2015. Good luck!

50 Book Challenge 2014 (recap/final reviews)

Although I didn’t quite reach my goal of 50 books read this year, I don’t think I did too badly. I managed to finish 40 books in 2014, and I still have a couple that I’m making my way through that I’ll be moving to my 2015 reading list. I didn’t get around to posting reviews for a couple of the books I read later in the year, so here they are –

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (6/10) – A friend of mine mentioned this book earlier in the year, and I made a mental note to pick it up when I had the chance. I managed to grab this from my local library (great for books you know will be one-off reads), and churned through it in a week or so. It was a very easy read, and the storyline was interesting enough to keep me turning the page. This is very much a YA book though. Not a whole lot of substance to it, but definitely a bit of fun.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting (3/10) – This was the second book club book that my friends and I read for the year, and it was my choice. I thought it would be an interesting book to read with the aim of discussing it at the end because I knew it would be quite controversial. The book itself had some potential, the plot was unique enough that if it was executed well it would have made for an interesting story. Unfortunately it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. In fact, it was pretty awful to read. Only one out of the six women in my book club liked this.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub (5/10) – I’d heard a few people raving about this book, so I ordered it in my Spring/Summer book haul earlier in the year. To be honest, it wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be. It was a nice, easy ready. I’d recommend this as a beach read, or a book to pick up if you’re going on holiday somewhere sunny.

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt (6/10) – Marcus Zusak mentioned this book in a tweet, and if Marcus Zusak recommends a book you can bet that I’ll be picking it up ASAP. I won’t give too much of this book away, but I will say that I think fans of ‘We Were Liars’ will probably enjoy this. Another easy read, and I finished it off in one weekend.

I’m going to be doing my annual giveaway of the four best (in my opinion) books that I read this year, so stay tuned for that later in the week!

50 Book Challenge (part 9)

All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue (5/10) – I downloaded this book a LONG time ago, but never got around to listening to it because ‘Under The Dome’ was taking me forever to work through (I’m still not finished), and put me off listening to audiobooks for a while. When I was back in the swing of listening, I decided to give this ago and was pleasantly surprised. This is the kind of book I’d classify as a ‘beach read’. It’s easy. Nothing too hard to digest, and exactly what I was in the mood for. Having said that, it did make me long for a summer holiday in a beach house, which I won’t be experiencing anytime soon. Sigh.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (8/10) – I’m not big on chick lit. I’ve never been a fan of rom-coms, so guess what? I’ve never seen the Notebook, and I’m ok with that. For some reason a little while ago I watched ‘Safe Haven’ (lets blame Zac Efron’s biceps), and it wasn’t that bad. Because of that, when I was browsing my local library recently I decided to pick up the first Nicholas Sparks book that I’ve ever read. And I did not hate it. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I looked forward to the moment every day where I would pick this book up and read it. I was pleasantly surprised, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of his work in the future.

The Returned by Jason Mott (4/10) – Sebastian and I started watching Resurrection when it first aired, but lost interest after the first couple of episodes. Nevertheless, I’d had the book that the show was based on sitting on my shelf for far too long and I was determined to finally read it. I suggested it at book club, because I felt like there would be many themes and issues that we’d be able to discuss after reading the book. There were. However, did any of us actually like the book? No. I won’t go into too much detail about what happens at the end of the story, but I will say that none of us were left satisfied by the ending of this book.

The Shining by Stephen King (4/10) – I struggled with this one. For some reason I was really in the mood to read it, but once I started I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I persevered though, and managed to finish it off over the course of a few months. I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to get into the story, as Stephen King books are usually real page-turners for me. This has been my least favourite of King’s works that I’ve read so far, and it differs so much from the movie which surprised me. I sort of wish I’d read the book prior to seeing the film, but I watched it for the first time many years ago so OH WELL.

The 50 Book Challenge (part 7)

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis (6/10) – This book popped up on Goodreads a few months ago and it seemed like something I’d like so I ordered a copy when I placed my Autumn/Winter haul. I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would (granted it did seem like the kind of book I’d like, but I’ve been let down so often with YA books lately that I didn’t have high hopes). Knowing that this book is targeted at a Young Adult audience, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the female protagonist was strong, capable, and didn’t annoy me in the slightest. There was also a twist at the end that was atypical of standard young adult stories, so that was an unexpected surprise.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart (5/10) – This book was getting so much hype that I couldn’t resist picking up a copy for myself, and as soon as it arrived it jumped to the top of my to-read pile. This is one of those books that it’s best you go into knowing little to nothing about, so I won’t go into too much detail here. I will say that I enjoyed it a lot and I managed to shoot through it in a couple of days (mostly because I was so eager to figure out what was going on, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end). This would make a good little beach read this summer.

Black River by Dean Koontz (1/10) – I noticed I was 4 books behind in my 50 book challenge so I decided to download a short audio book to listen to and bump my tally a bit. I hadn’t read anything by Dean Koontz before ‘Intensity’ earlier this year (which coincidentally, is one of my favourite books) and this seemed interesting enough so I decided to give it a go. Yes this book was short, so that was good. It was terrible though, so I struggled to get through even the short amount of time it took to listen to it.

In The Blood by Lisa Unger (8/10) – This was another book that I purchased up after seeing it on a friends Goodreads ‘to-read’ list (noticing a trend here?) and it was the last of my autumn/winter haul that I picked up to read. I didn’t guess the surprise element to this story until the very end, which is somewhat rare for me. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way to keep me guessing, which I really enjoyed. This is another easy read that I managed to power through in a few days because I was so eager to reach the conclusion. If you like mystery/thriller books, this is definitely worth checking out.