Recent Reads

I am well on track with the 50 Book Challenge this year, and I’m quite pleased with my progress so far. I am 10 books in to the challenge, and have quite a few good books lined up over the next couple of weeks (including school texts) so it’s all running pretty smoothly. As with my first ‘recent reads‘ post earlier this year, here are 4 small reviews of some of the books I’ve read during the challenge so far.

The Forest Of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I was initially drawn to it’s book due to the fact that it’s subject matter contained a post apocalyptic world infested with zombies. Stories that involve zombies (whether film or book) have always intrigued me, so I was quite excited about this book before reading it. I had been warned by various reviews that the female protagonist Mary was quite annoying and that wasn’t too far from the truth. Having said that, I was happy to put Mary’s personality and the annoying ‘young adult’ love triangle aside due to the more interesting aspects of the story (read: zombies). The village that Mary resides in is surrounded by fences that stand between humans and ‘the unconsecrated’. One day this fence is breached and Mary has to venture into the forest to try and find safety in another village. I enjoyed this book, it was a quick and interesting read and I am currently reading book 2 in the series, The Dead Tossed Waves.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
This book was quite a stumbling block for me. For some reason I really struggled to get involved in the first half of the story, despite it being an interesting and well written book. The story moves between three different timelines and a contains large collection of characters which made it hard at times to follow the flow of the story. Once I forced myself to sit down and really try to read a decent chunk of the story I was quite captivated and ended up finishing the second half of the book in a couple of days after struggling with the first half for over a week. I enjoyed it, and particularly liked Kate Morton’s style of writing. I’d be interested in checking out some of her other work in the future.

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien
This was yet another of my high school texts that I recently felt the urge to re-read. The story revolves around a young girl who is doing her best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world following a nuclear war. The style of writing was slightly old fashioned, due to the fact that the book was written and published in the 1970’s, but I still found the story and themes to be really interesting. I know this subject matter isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in the whole post-apocalyptic theme like I am, this book might be for you. It was a quick and easy read and I managed to finish it in a couple of days.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Ahh, Narnia. I plan on re-reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia series this year, and on re-reading the Magician’s Nephew for the upteenth time I was reminded once again of how magical C.S. Lewis’ writing style is. Despite the writing style being somewhat old fashioned, Lewis’ humour and wit is still relevant and I actually laughed out loud a couple of times while reading this book. The magic of Narnia never really dies for me, and I will openly admit to being a huge geek and getting super excited when Aslan first made his appearance in the story. Yes, I’m sad. Who cares. Narnia is awesome.

As always, hit me with your book suggestions if you’ve got them!

Recent Reads

I am happy with how my ’50 Book Challenge’ is progressing so far, having completed more than the necessary average of books per week so far this year. Here are some mini reviews of the books that I have read so far in 2011. (note: My copy of The Collector by John Fowles is not pictured, as I have leant it to a friend to read).

American Subversive by David Goodwillie
I picked this book up at a bookshop and was lured in by the interesting cover art. Thankfully it wasn’t too much of a let down (as it can sometimes be when you judge a book by it’s cover) and I did enjoy the book as a whole. The concept of the book seemed really interesting to me, but in my opinion the execution didn’t really live up to the storyline. The basic plot is that in a post 9/11 New York City a bomb is detonated in a building, and the media immediately assumes and points the finger at a middle eastern extremist group. A political blogger receives an email with an attached picture of a caucasian woman crossing the street in front of the bombed building, and the message “This is Paige Roderick, she is the one responsible.” I like the character development in the book, but found the lack of action quite boring and at times frustrating.

The Collector by John Fowles
I initially read this book in my highschool English Literature class, and had re-read it over the years, but for some reason I picked up a lot more about the story during this re-read than ever before. For one thing, I had always thought that the book took place in modern day Australia, but it’s in fact set in London in the 1960’s. I also found the story and theme of the book far more chilling than I ever did before. The story is split narrative between a middle aged sociopathic man and the 20 year old girl that he becomes obsessed with, and later kidnaps. I really enjoyed this book and got through it rather quickly (I think I finished it in 2-3 days) and the ending was as haunting as always.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusac
The immediate front-runner for my favourite book of 2011, The Book Thief was so incredible that I now count it amoung my favourite books of all time. (ALL TIME! …Okay, pipe down Kanye) I don’t think I’ve ever been as emotionally wrecked by a story as I was by The Book Thief, except perhaps while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which was another emotionally gruelling literary adventure. The character development in this story was second to none, and it was probably due to my attachment to the characters that I felt so shattered at the end of the book. The Book Thief is narrated by death (if that doesn’t draw you in immediately, I’m not sure what will) and revolves around a young girl called Liesel and her life in Germany during WW2. I absolutely loved this book, and would recommend it to all who are in the market for a good read.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
I purchased this book as it was on one of the “top apocalyptic fiction” lists that I found online, and I’d read quite a few good reviews of the story on different book blogs. It’s set in the US in the 1950’s in a post-apocalyptic scenario that occurs after a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. As with most pre-21st century apocalyptic fiction, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, and dealt more with the coping mechanisms of the small country town than anything else. Having said that, it did a good job to translate the era difference despite the constant reminders as to how pathetic women are (thanks, 1950’s mentality) and the subject of segregation which is something I have a hard time relating to in this day and age. The ending was quite poignant and tied everything together nicely for me.

What are you reading at the moment? Any good book suggestions for me?