50 Book Challenge 2014

Because I am absolutely flush with time and energy*** I’ve decided to embark on a reading challenge this year. I’m going to try and read 50 books by the end of 2014 (so far, I’m on track). I’ve written up a shortlist of books that I want to read this year, and here is a small selection –

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fford
Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood. Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane – a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed. For Eddie, it’s love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move all the way across the country and needs Amy to drive their car from California to the East Coast. There’s just one problem: since the death of her father, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute…and dealing with some baggage of his own. Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father’s death were not part of Amy’s plans for the road trip. But then neither was driving on the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado Mountains, visiting diners, dingy motels and Graceland. But as they drive, and she grows closer to Roger, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you need the most – – and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the New England island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to an impeccably appropriate young man. The weekend is full of lobster and champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust seep through the cracks in the revelry. Winn Van Meter, father-of-the-bride, has spent his life following the rules of the east coast upper crust, but now, just shy of his sixtieth birthday, he must finally confront his failings, his desires, and his own humanity.

Vitro by Jessica Khoury
A death-defying tropical adventure delivers a frightening message about dabbling with creation from the talented author of “Origin.” On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings–the Vitros–have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw. Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux. In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

*** sarcasm

50 Book Challenge 2012 + Giveaway

I didn’t manage to reach my goal of 50 books for this year, but I did get through a variety of books and discovered some new favourites. As I did in 2011, I will be hosting a Christmas giveaway with my favourite books from this year. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the following books you would most like to receive: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace, The Beach by Alex Garland, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The winners will be announced on January 18th, 2013 and please note that this giveaway is open to everyone, even my international readers. Good luck!

2012 50 Book Challenge Update #3

I’m a little bit behind in this challenge (9 books behind, according to good reads) but as the weather warms up I’ll hopefully be spending more time outside in the sun catching up on my reading. Since my last update, I’ve finished the following books:

The Enemy by Charlie Higgins – I picked this up purely because the story revolves around a zombie apocalypse, which turned out to be a mistake because I wasn’t that impressed by it. It’s a young adult novel and the characters in the story were just a bit to young for me to relate to.

The Ice Man (confessions of a mafia contract killer) by Philip Carlo – This was the latest choice for the book club that my close girlfriends and I have together, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’ve never really been a fan of true crime stories but this was rather captivating. If you’re a fan of the Sopranos this book might interest you.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – This is the second book in the Divergent series (trilogy?) and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. It’s a super easy read, but I found the dystopian storyline really interesting and the female protagonist was only mildly annoying which was a nice change.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell – I enjoyed this book and managed to get through it in a couple of days and now I’m curious to watch the film adaptation. It’s quite bleak, so if you’re in the mood for something depressing maybe check this out.

Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell – I was in the mood for a quick and easy read when I picked this out of the 3000 books on my kindle. I don’t normally read books like this but I liked it and I think I’ll be reading more from Patricia Cornwell in the future.

Four Past Midnight by Stephen King – I’ve never been a huge fan of short story collections and this was no exception. As with all of the Stephen King books I’ve read in the past, each story ended with a great big WTF and not in a good way.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer – I picked up this book with no real expectations as to what it would be like, and I have to say it surprised me. This was one of those books that sits with you for a little while after you read it, and so much so for me that I watched the film adaptation a day after finishing the book because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A very interesting (true) story.

Jaws by Peter Benchley – I liked this book but it deviated from the plot of the film quite a bit which I wasn’t expecting it to do. A fun read but not something I’d suggest picking up if you’re planning on going to the beach any time soon.

2012 50 Book Challenge Update #2

I’ve been gradually plugging away at my 50 Book Challenge for this year, and although I am 3 books behind (thank you for the constant reminders, Goodreads) I feel like I’m doing okay. Following on from my first update, I have since managed to complete these books:

Genesis by Bernard Beckett – I thought this book had an interesting concept until everyone turned out to be monkey robots at the end (I am not kidding).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I’d seen this listed on a few ‘top post-apocalyptic books’ lists floating around on the internet and had purchased it a while ago but never got around to reading it. Now that I’ve finally read it I’d class it as one of my favourite books. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood but this book seems to have a completely different style of writing (at least in my opinion) and I love it. The basic story outline is that our protagonist Offred is living in a future society where women can no longer procreate. Those that are still fertile are segregated from the rest of society and live with powerful men who attempt to get them pregnant. If they fail to do so, the women lose their value and are cast aside. The thing is, Offred still remembers life before this major shift in society, and seeing her struggling to come to terms with the current arrangement makes things all the more interesting. The most terrifying aspect of this book is how real it could be, and how bleak the thought of that is.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I re-read this book before going to see the film adaptation earlier this year. I love Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark so much it makes me sad that the character is not actually a real live person that I can marry and make babies with.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – This was the first book suggested for the recently established Seekrit Reeding Klub. It was a heavy read but I really enjoyed it. The character development was great (which is apparently crucial to me liking a book) and the dense waffly nature of the plot made it feel like every time I picked up the book and read for five minutes I had been transported into another world for an extended period of time. I can’t describe the plot without getting too dense and waffly myself, so here is the blurb – “Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.”. I can’t wait to see how this is transformed into a movie (if it ever eventuates). Jake Paltrow if you ever read this, Dee and I have some casting ideas we’d like to workshop with you.

The Long Walk by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) – I bought this book on a whim after seeing it mentioned in a video by Priscilla at The Readables. The concept of the story is basically a group of teenage boys embark on a “Long Walk”, an event held every year in a futuristic (for the time it was written I assume) society, and the last man standing wins. Quite literally, as everybody else either drops dead from sheer exhaustion, or collect their ‘ticket’ if they get over 3 warnings for stopping or slowing down too much and are slaughtered on the spot. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody else, but that description alone was enough to entice me in.

True Grit by Charles Portis – One of the most dry and witty books I’ve ever read and I loved it. I’m not sure if it helped that I had seen the recent remake of the film, because I could quite clearly hear Hayley Steinfeld’s clipped voice narrating the story in my head.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – I re-watch the 90’s film version of this story at least once a year and it still remains one of my all time favourites. I’d read the book as a child but had no recollection of the way it was written and how much the original book differed from the film. This is such a timeless story, I love the way that it’s written and the way that it makes me feel. I want to move to England and live in a big mansion on the moors where it’s cold and rainy most of the time but when it’s sunny I can go outside and play with a hot country boy and grow roses in a garden. Is that too much to ask?

50 Book Challenge Update

I am once again attempting to read 50 books during the year, and I think I’m off to a pretty decent start (though Good Reads is insisting that I’m 2 books behind). So far this year I’ve managed to read 7 books in their entirety. And they are –

What would I recommend out of this selection? Definitely A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Beach by Alex Garland & I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. What have you read (and loved) so far this year?