You can keep track of my book challenge here. This page will be updated with links new reviews and as they are posted, along with summaries and star ratings. Click here to see what I read in 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012.
I try to review most books I read. Check the 52 books 2013 tag, watch my video reviews on YouTube, or follow me on GoodReads.
The Humans by Matt Haig
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
18. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
17. A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
16. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
★★★★★ – I loved this book. Flawed but fabulous, it's a collection of correspondence compiled by a teenaged girl after her mother, Bernadette, disappears. Many great voices, exceptional rants, and subtle developments make this a hugely entertaining read. I highly recommend it.
15. After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh
★★★★★ – Short stories from after a (hopefully) fictional, near-future apocalypse. A bit of a mixed bag, really: some of these really stuck with me while others completely passed me by. As is common in the sci-fi realm, these are definitely stories of ideas over style, but also brought me out of my comfort zone.
14. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
★★★★★ – A great read about a lost diary and the hands into which it falls. This has a hook that will keep you guessing: is it entirely fiction, or only in part? There are 3 or 4 ways to slice it, and I enjoyed everything about getting there. Read my full review here, or watch my review on YouTube here.
13. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
★★★★★ – A nice wee story from the author of The English Patient (which I haven't, but know I need to, read). It's the story of a 10 year-old boy's 21-day journey by ship narrated by his older self. As a memoir of a journey and the characters he travelled with, it was lovely. As it became the philosophical thoughts and fears of a middle-aged man, I was less enchanted.
12. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
★★★★★ – Part three of The Hunger Games trilogy. I hated this the first time around. Upon re-reading and knowing what to expect I got more out of it. If you've ever been intrigued by this series, I recommend that you read it.
11. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
★★★★★ – This book didn't quite match up with my memory of it. I remembered this as my favourite book in the series. On reflection, what I'd thought was a few chapters of homecoming was in fact almost half of the book. I'd revise my favourite to book 1 now. The second half of this one isn't as exciting when you know what's coming, but it's a fun read nonetheless.
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
★★★★★ – I'm in the midst of a big project based around The Hunger Games – notably its fandom. This is the third time I've read The Hunger Games (book 1) and it's as fresh and exciting as ever. Worth a read if you haven't caught up with it yet.
9. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
★★★★★ – One of the more exciting YA dystopias I've read. Great world-buidling, drops you into the action via a very curious lead character. For me the pacing was a little off and I got a bit fed up with every chapter ending on a cliff-hanger, so the high tension all the damn time thing ended up meaning that it took me longer to get through this. Misgivings aside, definitely one of the good ones.
8. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
★★★★★ – A literary coming-of-age debut that's a cut above other young adult fiction. Full review here. (Originally written for The List magazine.)
7. The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps by Michel Faber
★★★★★ – This is a novella – and a quick one at that. Following an archaeologist at a small-town English dig, her inner torments, and a friendship with a recently bereaved Londoner and his dog, there isn't a whole lot to get into. I enjoyed the prose style but thought the more spiritual elements fell flat. It's a commissioned piece and, unfortunately, it reads like one.
6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
★★★★★ – Middle-grade dystopia and, with its intended audience in mind, a good one at that. More of a slow and creepy pace, but still climaxes into something of a chase – which is becoming a personal bugbear with this genre. Gentle, clever, and not too demanding.
5. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
★★★★★ – Sometimes a girl needs a little Steinbeck. You know how it is. This wasn't my favourite of his books I've read so far, but it's great to see an American author tackling the immigrant experience and demonstrating that it isn't so alien after all.
4. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
★★★★★ – Tumbling deeper into the rabbit hole of YA post-apocalyptic literature, I knew I'd be remiss if I passed this one over. Inasmuch as there can be a classic of the genre, this is one. Well liked as it is, I wasn't crazy about this one. It relies a little to heavily on ah-ha moments and convenient plot resolutions. Generally, though, it held my attention well enough and well-paced action sequences kept this one ticking over.
3. The Panem Companion by V. Arrow
– More research, and what luck! This is a goldmine of Hunger Games trivia, including fandom theory, story deconstruction, and lexicography. I imagine this one has a very specific audience, but V. Arrow has catered to it incredibly well.
2. Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli
– I'm currently working on a volume which will be part of the Fan Phenomena series by Intellect Books. Anelli's book on the Harry Potter phenomenon is heralded by fans and seemed like the perfect place to begin my research. This is part journalism, part memoir, which suited my purposes but at times wandered into nostalgia and extraneous detail. That being said, it is a must for those fans of JK Rowling's series who want their story to be told.
1. Double On-Call and Other Stories by John Green
★★★★★ – This ebook was released as a reward for donating to the Project For Awesome. I imagine John Green wouldn't be happy to see a rating applied to this book, especially since it's so unusual for an author to share early work, and work that is unfinished. This was a great insight into his writing process and growth as an author.