This year has gone by so quickly it took me almost a week into December before putting my Christmas tree up as I couldn’t believe it was that time again. But now it’s up and the reality is that I probably will not finish this challenge before the New Year begins. I still have 12 books to read to complete this challenge so it is looking more and more likely that this will extend into January. But that is ok. I am still pretty pleased with the quantity and quality of books that I have read this year. This update contains a big mix of books including some that I really did not enjoy and others that where spectacular works of literature.
Let’s take a look through this month’s book pile:
A trilogy (book three): Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent Series)
After the full on excitement created in the first two books I was curious to see what Roth came up with next. The answer was kind of what I had been expecting to happen in book two; that she lost it and got carried away with too many ideas. It should be pretty easy to adapt this book to a movie as I really felt that most of it could very easily be cut out. It got very Twilight and I found the switching of narration between Tris and Tobias confusing as they read like the same character. A lot of emphasis was placed on relationships in this story and ultimately I am not really sure that any lessons were learned. I was not overly surprised at the ending but rather felt it wrapped up the story in a finite way and allowed the reader to imagine what the future would hold in this dystopian world.
A classic romance: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
This was probably one of the more challenging categories to fill as this is my favourite category therefore I have read a great deal of titles! My favourites of this genre would have to be a tie between Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch, however after reading this novel I believe it may too now be considered as one of my favourites. Anne Bronte is quite overshadowed by her sisters, however I think this tale is so much more enjoyable than either Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, both of which I find irritating. Anne only published 2 novels before her early death at the age of 29 and I had read the other and am sorry to say had not heard of this one until researching for this challenge. I am so glad I found it! Exploring a feminist perspective on marriage and love and the torment women went through trapped in emotionally abusive relationships really strikes a chord with society even in a modern context. If you have a passion for literature I really do urge you to read this book as the beauty of the prose and the power of the story is something special.
A book written by someone under 30: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Not sure how I feel about this book. I think that is maybe the point. I was very interested to read this book that I had a number of categories lined up trying to fit it in this challenge. I feel slightly disappointed though as I think my expectations were too high. What is greatly praised about this book is the way in which it is written in such a modern style however that is probably the part I disliked about it. A combination of a fictionalised past mixed with an autobiographical tale makes this book an interesting read but not one that I really enjoyed reading.
A book based on or turned into a TV show: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
This is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series which the TV show True Blood was based on. I enjoyed the show and was interested as to how it was originally written having heard a few comments. To be honest the book and the 1st series of the show are pretty identical! With a few basic character changes the story flows along exactly the same way. A lot of things I thought would have just been stylised just for on screen effect where written in. Character development is always key in the first of any series and I feel like this book gives a great introduction to Sookie and Vampire Bill. The only hindrance in my ability to truly enjoy it was how familiar I am with the TV show thus I wasn’t able to create the characters in my own mind as they already had faces. I have seen the entire TV series so I’m not eager to read the remaining books however I am a little interested to know if the books continue to move as closely in the same direction as the show.
A book based entirely on its cover: The House At The End Of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag
This book kept appearing in my daily Amazon emails and I was intrigued by its cover. I loved the colour and the font and it seemed to tell me that it was a story that I should read. I love the covers of books and I am often drawn to books based purely on this alone. This book I must say was one of those that you cannot truly judge by its cover. I did not enjoy the way it was written and I did not like the characters. What I did like was the reference to famous literary women and the overall message that following your passion even if it is not a sensible career option can help you gain further understanding of yourself and lead to a happier life. I think this was the message I saw in the cover so while I didn’t actually enjoy reading it I understand why I felt intrigued by it.
A book that came out the year you were born: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
I found this book early in the year when searching for books released in 1990 and found it stood out completely from every other book that year. I am not the biggest fan of war stories, mostly because they are too real, and I often do not enjoy the way they are told. It was for this reason that I kept moving other titles in front of this one until finally I knew I wasn’t going to be able to avoid it any longer. Every single bit of praise for this book is so well deserved. I loved everything about it. I love when a book is powerful enough to make you feel every emotion which is what this book did for me. It didn’t glorify war; in fact it did the opposite. It explored feelings of shame, of guilt and the challenges that veterans faced upon returning to America from Vietnam. It is written as a series of short stories that are all connected and together they create a story which you will struggle to put down.
A play: A Woman Of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
I am not going to lie; I really was not interested in reading a play. Mostly because the only play’s I had read where Shakespeare in high school English. This play was one of the many works spoken about in The House At The End Of Hope Street and the idea of reading a play that satirizes English high society actually interested me. It was a little silly and the characters flaws were accentuated which made for light reading. I found it a lot easier to read than I expected and found that the story flowed along nicely.
A book set during Christmas: Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle
This was most definitely a category filler and another sneaky excuse to read John Green. This book is told as three stories written by three different young adult authors. The stories and the lives of the characters intertwine. It is a light holiday read that was certainly made better by the magnificence of Greens prose in the middle story. Tales of love, of friendship and of family are told and make you understand the significance of Christmas.