2019 Reading Challenge

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Hi Pals,
Every year I try and read 20 books. This year I didn’t even cheat. I track progress via the GoodReads Reading Challenge.
I didn’t have an excellent reading year for 2019; mostly, I didn’t enjoy a lot of the books I read. Should I give up on books I don’t like? Yes. Will I? Probably not.

Want to know more about all the books I read this year? Click ‘read more.’ All links simply go to Goodreads.com (non-affiliate.)

If you don’t want to read the summaries but are needing some new books – I highly recommend: Bear Town, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and The Dry.

My favourites of 2018 were Before the Fall, The Percy Jackson Series, Crazy Rich Asians and The Princess Bride. To read my full post click here.

BOOK ONE: Nemesis

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs
Dates: 12 Jan – 20 Jan
Stars: ☆☆☆☆
This book had everything I wanted for a YA book. I needed something that could hold my attention to get back into reading, and this did it. There weren’t heaps of characters to follow, the usual amount of high school environment but also had a depth to friendships, betrayal and relatable issues in terms of isolation. Also, I’m a sucker for a book that separates chapters into characters’ viewpoints.

Goodreads: ” He killed me. He killed me not. He killed me.
It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

BOOK 2: Lullaby

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani, Sam Taylor (Translator)
Dates:
12 Jan – 24 Jan
Stars: ☆☆☆
I gave myself some time to think about this ending because at first, I was disappointed. I wanted to know what happened to the others. To Stephanie, to Myriam, to Paul and even Louise. Then, I guess, I realised that this isn’t their story and it’s not future Louise’s story either.
There was for sure some weird moments within this book, huge signs where I had to process what had happened. You do feel sorry for Louise but as the story goes on, as you see her for who she is – you realise, she’s no victim. It was a good read, I’m sure it would be better in French.

Goodreads: “When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered.

BOOK 3: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Dates: 24 Jan – 04 Feb
Stars: ☆☆☆
I enjoyed the three groups of characters, the back and forth perceptions but it was a little too long, a little too wordy.

Goodreads: “Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong.
Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

BOOK 4: Life in a Fishbowl

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos
Dates: 23 Feb – Mar 04
Stars: ☆☆☆
An odd premise for a book. A father who is dying of cancer decides to bid his life on eBay. Enter in TV producers who start to film the tv show and make their daughters go to instant celebs. There’s more than one perspective in which one is from the tumour itself taught you a bit about human neurology which was a nice touch.

Goodreads: “Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN”

BOOK 5: The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper
Dates: 05 Mar – 10 Mar
Stars: ☆☆☆☆
I really enjoyed this thriller. Set in a small Australian town, having the mindset of locals-only being locals if you’re born there. They know everyone and know everything. It’s easy to follow, the premise relying on an old local/best friend of the victim comes back to handle a case. The downside, he does the investigation that should have been done in the first place. I think as a debut novel, it’s had rave reviews and instead of guessing the ending you have to follow the clues as told.

Goodreads: “In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.

BOOK 6: My Cat Yugoslavia

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci
Dates: 11 Mar – 17 Mar
Stars: ☆☆☆☆
I read this before heading off to Prishtina, Kosovo. It speaks of a family who moves from Kosovo to Finland to try and find a better life, a better home. It speaks from two perspectives; a mother and son. The different perspectives of becoming refugees, trying to fit in and the overall theme of loneliness that runs throughout. Personally, too metaphorical for my personal taste but I enjoyed it.

Goodreads: “In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, but what was meant to be a happy match goes quickly wrong. Soon thereafter her country is torn apart by war and she and her family flee. Years later, her son, Bekim, grows up a social outcast in present-day Finland, not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners, but a gay man in an unaccepting society. “

BOOK 7: Something in the Water

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Dates: 17 Mar – 01 Apr
Stars: ☆☆☆
A psychological thriller, I found it to have a few good twists and turns. It went into details of the vacation and various other areas – which for me is always good in a novel. It was a tad predictable, but that didn’t take from the overall story.

Goodreads: “Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. .

BOOK 8: Scrappy Little Nobody

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Dates: 01 Apr – 11 Apr
Stars: ☆☆☆☆
Anna Kendrick is for me, someone who can do no wrong. I enjoy her movies and any interviews I’ve seen have made me laugh. Her autobiography is a small brief inside look into her thoughts. How she makes observations on slut shaming, sex-positivity and double standards.

Goodreads: “A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.”

BOOK 9: Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Dates: 14 Apr – 21 Apr
Stars: ☆☆☆
Coming back, I’m actually surprised that I’ve given this book 3 stars because I remember actively hating the characters. It made for a good read in terms of an insight into a dysfunctional family life,E in the lightest of senses. How the cops weren’t called multiple times is a shocker.

Article: STEREOGUM: The hunt for he worst movie of all time: Running With Scissors.
Goodreads: “The true story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. “

BOOK 10: This Is All Your Fault, Cassie Parker

This Is All Your Fault, Cassie Parker by by Terra Elan McVoy
Dates
: 21 Apr – 27 Apr
Stars: ☆☆
Apparently a companion novel to Drive Me Crazy, I believed it to be a young adult novel when in turn it was a childish attempt of middle school friendships. It was 1.5 stars.

Goodreads: “In this heartwarming companion to Drive Me Crazy, twelve-year-old Fiona Coppleton is living a middle schooler’s worst nightmare: her diary was made public and her best friend is partly to blame.”



BOOK 11: Around the World in 100 Days

Around the World in 100 Days by Gary L. Blackwood (Goodreads Author)
Dates: Apr 27 – May 30
Stars: ☆☆☆
A quick, good read. No real twists or turns but easy to get through. A bit repetitive but a nice take on the old classic.
Goodreads: “Picking up where Around the World in Eighty Days left off, Harry Fogg, the son of Phileas Fogg, has just made a wager of his own. Harry bets that he can drive a steam-powered motorcar all the way around the world in only 100 days. Racing off with three companions, Harry undertakes a grueling journey that will pit him against flash fires, marauders, and even sabotage from within.

BOOK 12: The Figgs

The Figgs by Ali Bryan
Dates: 03 Jun – 23 Jun
Stars: ☆
Flat characters, flat story. The story read like a poor television sitcom and I just didn’t enjoy any of them.
Goodreads: “Meet the Figgs. June, the family’s matriarch, looks forward to a quiet retirement — if only she can get her three adult children to finally, finally, move out of the house. But her dreams are shattered when her son Derek unexpectedly becomes a single father. Now there’s a newborn baby at home, and Derek’s older siblings are showing no sign of going anywhere either.”

BOOK 13: The Fireman

The Fireman by Joe Hill
Dates: 26 Jun – 01 Aug
Stars: ☆☆
I love, love Joe Hill, and Horns was one of my favourite reads. This, The Fireman really let me down. The premise of it a post-apocalyptic novel got me, and I loved a lot of the characters, but it was tough to get into. The five-star moments it did have was overshadowed by the length and minor details that could have been tweaked.
Goodreads:
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

BOOK 14: Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Dates: 01 Aug – 12 Aug
Stars: ☆☆☆☆
I loved this book. I didn’t want to put it down.
The settings are always described wonderfully, and you feel for the majority of the characters involved. You feel for them so much you don’t want the book to end. The loss of one star was how much the story was actually premised on Hockey, but once you got over that, it was brilliant. The ending also felt a little unfinished, but as there a sequel I believe it would clarify there.

Goodreads: “People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys”

BOOK 15: One Brother Shy

One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis
Dates: 12 Aug – 18 Aug
Stars: ☆
How this got majority of 4 stars from readers, I will never know. It was an easy read but boy oh boy it was bad. Bad story, bad characters and I felt I was reading some creative writing piece. It was even worse that this was recommended to me.
Goodreads: “Alex finds himself trying to piece together the mystery of his identity, and on a search for parts of his family he never knew existed—a search that takes him from Ottawa to London to Moscow, encountering along the way the KGB, painful memories from his past, and even the 1972 Russian hockey team—a search that ultimately helps Alex discover himself.

BOOK 16: The Circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers
Dates: 18 Aug – 30 Aug
Stars: ☆☆
You want to like this book, offering a dystopian theme with a protagonist that navigates the world through a series of choices, both poor and in an obvious direction. The characters had many unlikable characters and the ending left me so mad that it lost a star.

Goodreads: “When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.
What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

BOOK 17: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Dates: 30 Aug – 14 Sept
Stars: ☆☆☆☆☆
Backman knows how to write a story, make you fall in love with the characters and never wanting the book to end. It took a little bit to get into at the start, and although some people find it having too many mini-plots or descriptive parts – for me it just worked. This was up there with ‘A Man Called Ove.’

Goodreads: “Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

BOOK 18: La Laguna

La Laguna by Barbara Kingsolver
Dates: 14 Sep – 23 Nov
Stars: ☆☆
It took me more than two months, but I finally finished. The book itself just kept going on and on, and I felt that it wasn’t complete. There was a lack of emotion between the main character. I’d never read about someone so bland. The points of Totsky, Kahlo and Rivera were incredible however, which gave it the two stars.
Goodreads:
An epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities. Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico-from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

BOOK 19: Conversations with Friends

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Dates: 25 Nov – 30 Nov
Stars: ☆☆
I didn’t really relate to the main characters as people. They believe that their intellect allows them to have moral ambiguity and to come up with reasons to follow through leading towards selfishness and being self-absorbed. Frances, who holds the perspective of how we’re introduced to the other characters, really doesn’t paint the most delightful picture for them, or even herself if I’m honest. I wouldn’t like to befriend these people, have them in my circle or even as acquaintances. Although an easy read, the writing style was different and felt let down.

Goodreads: “Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband.”

BOOK 20: The Trap

The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Dates: 06 Dec – Dec 08
Stars: ☆☆☆
I didn’t see the twists coming and I didn’t want to put it down. Although lacking in story and character development, it was a page turner. The fact there was a novel, within the novel was a different take on your usual thrillers.
Goodreads: For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister–who she discovered in a pool of blood–and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda’s hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister’s murderer on television.


What books did you read in 2019? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know below!

As always, stay cool.
– Sarah

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