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!

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!