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.

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.

50 Book Challenge (part 8)

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (3/10) – Honestly, I picked this book up just so I could read it and get it off of my shelf. This was the third and final book in a series that I really wasn’t that interested in. This was a short and easy read, and I think from memory I powered through it over the course of a weekend. If you’re interested in post-apocalyptic stories this may interest you, but there isn’t much else going on to keep you interested, to be honest.

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis (7/10) – I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this book by the publishing company as part of their Australian marketing campaign for the book’s release release. They hid copies of the book throughout Perth city, and when I wasn’t lucky enough to find one for myself they were kind enough to deliver one to work for me. Such an amazing campaign, and I have since paid it forward and sent the book onto Tonile from ‘my cup and chaucer’ so she could have the opportunity to read it too. This book was incredibly sweet and touching, and had a lot of laugh out loud moments for me. The characters are all so rich, and feel so real, and the storyline is really something special.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (7/10) – Despite the protagonist in this book being absolutely AWFUL, the plot and the ethical questions posed by it were enough to make me enjoy ‘The Circle’ quite a lot. My IT-worker boyfriend is reading this at the moment and although he also hates the protaganist, he’s really enjoying the story. It’s the most probable ‘dystopian’ world I’ve seen a book set in, as it’s really not too different from how we live now and how we seem to be progressing as a society on the whole. One thing I will say about this is that I listened to the audiobook of the story, and the narrator used a very strange accent for nearly every supporting character in the story. It was quite offputting, so if you’re keen to read this I would suggest picking up a physical copy of the book.

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn (5/10) – I was really excited to pick this up, as the author had been likened to John Marsden (one of the author idols of my teenage years), and the story seemed right up my alley. Not only does it centre around a post-apocalyptic world following a nuclear attack, but it’s set in Australia. Perfect. I did enjoy this book, but it was clearly set up to be the first book in a series, which bothered me a little bit. I’m not a big fan of series books, so if I’d known that going into the book I may not have bothered with it at all. Having said that, the book was pretty good, the characters weren’t annoying (this seems to be a big problem for me with YA fiction, as I’ve mentioned before), and a lot of the situations presented were pretty stark and realistic. Now that I’m into the story I’ll probably pick up the rest of the series when it eventually comes out.

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.