50 Book Challenge (part 6)

It’s amazing how a good book can really motivate you to read, and to keep picking up more books after you’ve finished that one. God bless these books for kick-starting my love of reading. I’m down to 12 books behind, which means I’m one book ahead of where I was at the last time I posted a 50 Book Challenge wrap up. We can do this!

Pleasure Island by Anna-Lou Weatherley 6/10 – This was my first ever NetGalley book, and I was excited to see what it was like. I like that it was the kind of book that I’d never have picked up if I hadn’t seen it listed on NetGalley. I really enjoyed this book, it was a bit of an adventure and a lot of fun. I think it’d make for a good beach read, so if you’re after something a bit sexy and fun this is one to pop in your beach bag this summer.

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness 6/10 – This book was gifted to me by the lovely Tonile from My Cup and Chaucer (thanks again Tonile!), and it was a really fun YA paranormal with a twist. I’ve often wondered about all of the normal people who live in book-based paranormal worlds – don’t they wonder what the hell is going on with all of the vampires and werewolves running around? This story deals with people inside a world like that, but separated from the main “action”. A fun read, and worth picking up if you like YA books that sit just outside the norm.

A Time To Run by J.M. Peace 7/10 – I didn’t realise this book was set in Australia until I picked it up, which was a pleasant surprise for me. This book was all too real and extremely creepy. I love a good police procedural, and what I liked about this was the healthy balance between the parallel stories as they played out. I also love a book with strong female characters, and this did not disappoint. I powered through this book pretty quickly, it was definitely thrilling and even brought a tear to my eye a few times.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams 8/10 – I put this book on my to-read list after seeing a booktuber mention it as a book she re-reads every summer. I love books like that (for me it’s a children’s book – All In The Blue Unclouded Weather by Robin Klein – don’t judge), ones you can read over and over again and they never lose their magic. I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked this book up, but obviously I liked what I saw because I read this book in one day. The whole book. And it’s 357 pages long. I adored the setting of this book, Rhode Island in the 1930s. I especially loved the character development, and the believable romance. There are a few twists and turns along the way that aren’t too surprising, but still interesting enough to watch play out. Would I read this again next summer? Without a doubt.

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 (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.

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?

Recent Reads

The 50 Book Challenge is still going strong, and I am still on well track to reaching that target by the end of the year. As with my last ‘recent reads‘ post recently, here are 4 small reviews of some of the books I’ve read during the challenge so far.

The Odyssey by Homer
This was the first text that I had to read for my University course this year, and boy was it a heavy one. It follows the story of Odysseus as he makes his way home after an epic journey in which he gets kidnapped by the goddess Calypso and is stranded on an Island. It was definitely not a book that I would have picked up on my own due to the scale of it, despite my fascination with ancient Greek mythology. I am glad that I read it though because it was an interesting book and although not one that I would call a page turner, it was definitely interesting.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
This book was a re-read for me. I had originally borrowed it from a friend a couple of years back but then I saw the a copy on the shelf at a second hand book store recently and decided to buy it for myself. I love this book. Basically, it’s the story of a teenage girl named Susie Salmon who is murdered in her hometown in the 1970s. The book then goes on to describe the stages of grief that her family and friends go through after her death, all of which is observed by Susie from her own little patch of heaven. The story itself and the way it is told is absolutely heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a good cry.

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
This book was recommended to me by a reader and I really enjoyed it, so thankyou Tonile! It’s an old-school ghost story that left me feeling unsettled and chilled on finishing the book. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a very subtle sort of story so if you’re into gore and hardcore ghosty thrills this probably isn’t for you. Interesting fact: they are making a film of this book starring my imaginary boyfriend (#56) Daniel Radcliffe. Exciting!

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
This is book two in the ‘Forest of Hands & Teeth’ series about zombies (or as they’re called in these books – The Unconsecrated). I preferred this book to the first in the series, which I think is mostly due to the fact that the female protagonist didn’t annoy me as much. A lot of the questions that I had on completing book one were explained and wrapped up in book two, so I was happy about that. This book follows the story of Gabrielle, another young girl facing life in the future world infested with the undead. I won’t go into too much detail as this is a follow up book in a series and I don’t want to post any spoilers for those who’ve not read book one yet…

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