What I’ve Been Reading in 2014

As I haven’t been blogging so far this year I wanted to catch up on the books I’ve been reading. So far I have managed to read 28 books and I feel like I am going slow however I am currently on track for Goodreads goal for the year of 60 books. Sadly I’ve not found anything this year that’s really blown me away, I have enjoyed some books, but most of them have just been OK. Currently I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring which isn’t helping me feel like I’m reading fast but I am getting through it and so far liking it so hopefully the second half of the year will be a better one for reading.

Rainbow Rowell   

My very first book of 2014 was Eleanor and Park which I enjoyed it a lot and have since read both her other published books; Fangirl and Attachments. I didn’t realise this former was an adult book till I got into it but it was just as good as her other work telling a really interesting story about three characters who’s lives are coming together. Fangirl is her other YA book and was a very easy read with a really enjoyable contemporary story that would make a perfect summer read.

Patrick Ness  

This year I have also got to sample some more of Patrick Ness’ work. Firstly I picked up A Monster Calls as they had it at a cheap book store. I was expecting it to be a creepy thriller type story but it turned out to be a very beautiful story about a child learning to deal with illness that definitely left me with wet eyes. More Than This on the other hand was more of a sci-fi story looking at the capabilities of the internet and a very different view of life after death.

War Books 

I also wanted to show some respect to the 100th anniversary of WW1 and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in a personal way by reading books set during the war. I’ve managed to read a few thanks to the library but the one that I enjoyed most was All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Unlike a lot of war books I have read it was set during World War 1 but what made it more interesting was it is from the point of view of a German solider and it very much put across the fact that in the end, it was just boys who have done nothing wrong but fight for their country.

Adult  

Another person goal of mine has been to branch out with me reading, particularly to stop being afraid of adult novels. The Dark Heroine by Abigail Gibbs was one of the first books I read this year and I really enjoyed it. It’s a dark romance involving the paranormal and was an intoxicating read. My biggest surprise of the year was a book I picked up in the library purely for the name. The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard turned out to be an exciting adventure with a touch of magic and I think will definitely be making me top reads of 2014.

Classics  

Similarly reading more classics is on my list for the year and I recently read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This was one of those books that stays with you long after you close it. There isn’t a huge plot to the book but the society and the ideals presented in the book give you plenty to think about. Another more modern classic I’ve got through is Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. This was never on my To Read list and I hadn’t seen the film but when I over heard my friends talking about the twist in it I decided to give it a shot. It was certainly an interesting read and having now seen the film I am glad I read the book first.

Series    

There’s been a lot of good and bad series going about the last few years and I’ve not got many on the go at the moment but I did have Shattered by Teri Terry to look forward to. This was the final book in a dystopian series and this last book was quite a change from the first two. I enjoyed the change of setting for this book, however I feel there was maybe a little to much worry about the romance. A better balance of romance to action could be founf in The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey which I only recently finished. This book turned out to be another one that was different from what I was expecting but definitely in a good way. I can’t wait to see where this series will go. I finally also managed to pick up The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was a very quick read with some interesting ideas but it didn’t blow me away like I had expected.  A book I had never planned really on reading but picked this year was The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I have seen the start of the movie adaptation of this several times but never made it to the end so it is good to finally know what happens. I’m not going to carry on with these at the moment but I did find it a worth while read and certainly an entertaining one.

Booksplosion 

Lastly is We Were Liars by E Lockhart. This is being read by a group of booktubers I watch and being so short I figured I would just give it a go. It’s a book you need to go into not knowing anything about it however for me I was expecting a great story from all its hype and sadly it didn’t live up to that.

There have been more books this year but these are the ones I feel are worth noting about. I am looking forward to hopefully getting through so more noteworthy books soon and maybe getting some good review up soon!.

 

 

 

Re-Read Review – Mockingjay

For me this book starts to become a bit more about Katniss and her feelings for Peeta. Although I agree that this trilogy has never been about the love triangle there is a little more of that in this one. When I first read this trilogy I didn’t have a preferred male till this book and I’m ashamed to admit it was the loss of Peeta and his devotion for Katniss that made my decision for me. Gale in this on the  other hand becomes way more vengeful and if I am honest really bothers me. In the larger scheme of things though this time round I found it much easier to understand that Katniss is still in a games. Only now it’s not only Snow manipulating her but also Coin and Plutarch. This is what makes the series interesting. That in some way the rebellion could turn out just as bad for everyone and Katniss can see that. More importantly there are people behind her that will fight with her to try and make the right change knowing she will do as she always has done, be herself.

Re-Read Review – Catching Fire

The first time I read this series this was my favourite of the three and it still is. I had forgotten how much of the book is set in the districts and because I wasn’t lost in the excitement of the first time I could read a bit slower and take it all in. Katniss’ desperation to stop the rebellion is so strong and when she feels shes lost hope convincing Snow she stops being so reserved with Gale. However for me Gale becomes more annoying in this book. His burning need for revenge begins to show through and it just goes downhill from there. The arena in this book is also a lot more interesting than the first and without being morbid I like the mental picture I get of the clock.  The relationships also become interesting to read. Katniss interactions with Mags, Finnick and Joanne are so well written and portray different feeling that are great to read about. Of course I would be lying if I didn’t say I also enjoy watching her fall in love with Peeta, however much the end breaks our hearts. The ending of course is great, and although the book is better I love that it has been portrayed so well in the movie.

Re-Read Review – The Hunger Games

With the Catching Fire movie being released this week I wanted to re-read the series to get the story back into my head. I read this one quite a while ago and I didn’t really remember much about how it was written so I was pleased to find that it was better than I remembered. The pace of the story is very quick and it is very easy to sit down and read the whole thing in a few hours. I was most surprised by how much Katniss at the start of the book insisted her relationship with Gale was in no way romantic as the love triangle is often talked about but I didn’t find this a bad thing. What I also found interesting was how I processed the behaviors of the two boys. From a relationship point of view they offer two very different types of romance. Gale is the best friend kind, who likes the same things as you and you would be his equal. Peeta on the other hand is the more traditional romantic. He puts Katniss first and it is all about her protection and happiness. I think I definitely enjoyed reading this more second time around. I picked up more on how strong Katniss is as a heroine and the survival story felt more important than the romance. Can’t wait to start Catching Fire now, it was my favourite last time!

Allegiant

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

I have literary just finished this books and I don’t know what to do with myself and the information I have!. My friend is only just started it and we have all promised Veronica Roth not to post spoilers so I am trapped with my feelings!. This was a really great end to the series. Getting to read from Tobias point of view as well as Tris was great although it took a  couple of chapters to get into the mind set of not every chapter being her.  I think the fact that he is Tobias and not Four really reflects how his character has changed since Tris has been in his life and he continues to discover things about himself through out this story. As does Tris. Everything they have known is questioned when they discover beyond the gates. They each have person battles to deal with but their relationship is also challenged. Seeing what they need in one another and learning what love really means to them features just as much in this story as the dystopian aspect. The romance and it’s challenges fitted in perfectly though, well balanced and beautifully written. As for the truth, it doesn’t make their lives any less complicated and they aren’t about to sit back and loose any more. 
I feel I can’t say any more about the story than this. I don’t want to just summaries the plot and I think my feelings about the end might reveal too much. All I can say is if you have read the first two in this series go and get your hands on this one NOW!. 

I wanted to add a bit more to this review now I have had a night to sleep on it. I still can’t get over what I have read but I do think it was the right thing for the story, The series has always been about Tris and her choices, despite the dystopian society and with this ending we really see that dauntless was the right choice. I think this book does have slightly less action than the others, and some people may think they too easily loose sight of what is going on inside the gates but for Tris to develop she needed a new environment. The chapters from Tobias point of view also could have benefited from not sounding exactly the same as Tris but his side of the events was needed to complete the picture of the world they are dealing with. I still love this as the last book in the series and it will be going down as one of my best in the year, I just wanted to balance my review out a little now I’m over the emotional response.

Tomorrow, When The War Began

When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

I have only really just put this book down and I don’t like to start a review negatively but I feel disappointed by this book. Since I started my dystopian challenge this is a book I have been really interested to read but having read it I’m not totally convinced I would count it as dystopian. It is the story of a group of friends who go off camping to a remote part of the bush and when they return it has been invaded. They work out roughly what has happened and so put together supplies and return to their camp to decide what to do. The book is being written by Ellie, who has been nominated to record everything that has happened to them so far. As a result of this we get to live through her emotions as the story unfolds but what annoyed me was that it included a love triangle. I know this book is 11 years old and before the fad but it still always puts me off a story. Whats more I just didn’t find it an understandable thing to be worrying about giving else that was going on. The disappointment however was the actual story, it just didn’t feel realistic. Some of the things that are said and the actions they take are pretty extreme and I just don’t think teens would act that way in that situation. Maybe that is me just being cynical but it didn’t work for me. The thing I did like though was the look at evil and nature. Ellie is really interested in these concepts and her musings about them are interesting to think about. Overall I didn’t hate this book I just didn’t feel that excited by it. It was an easy read and I don’t think I will read any more of the series but I will try the film. 

 

Genesis

Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim? Outstanding and original, Beckett’s dramatic narrative comes to a shocking conclusion.

This was recommended to me by a friend on goodreads and as I am trying to read 24 dystopians this year and the book had amazing reviews I decided to go ahead and download is for my kindle (it was only 98p). When I started it I was expecting it to be like a lot of other dystopia at the moment but it was totally different. The style of writing isn’t the usual you would find in Young Adult fiction. The story is told as an exam of the societies history and it almost feels like you are reading a piece of educational text. The character we are seeing from is a 17 year old girl but she is studying the creation of their society by telling  the examiners about Adam and Art. During their time their island has been cut off from the rest of the world because of a dangerous plague destroying the world. Adam is a bit of a trouble maker in this new society and so he finds himself sentenced to help a philosopher with his work into artificial intelligence, Art. Through their interactions the book questions humanity. The pair argue about consciousness;

“Consciousness is the feel of accessing memory.” 

the mind;

“The mind is not a machine, it is an idea. And the Idea resists all attempts to control it.” 

and ideas;

“The only thing binding individuals together is ideas. Ideas mutate and spread; they change their hosts as much as their hosts change them.”

and our narrator Anax offers beautiful definitions of human spirit;

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile.”

superstition;

“Superstition is the need to view the world in terms of simple cause and effect. As I have already said, religious fundamentalism was on the rise, but that is not the type of superstition I am referring to. The superstition that held sway at the time was a belief in simple causes. 

Even the plainest of events is tied down by a thick tangle of permutation and possibility, but the human mind struggles with such complexity. In times of trouble, when the belief in simple gods breaks down, a cult of conspiracy arises. So it was back then. Unable to attribute misfortune to chance, unable to accept their ultimate insignificance within the greater scheme, the people looked for monsters in their midst. 

The more the media peddled fear, the more the people lost the ability to believe in one another. For every new ill that befell them, the media created an explanation, and the explanation always had a face and a name. The people came to fear even their closest neighbors. At the level of the individual, the community, and the nation, people sought signs of others’ ill intentions; and everywhere they looked, they found them, for this is what looking does.”

and fear;

“But time passes. Fear becomes a memory. Terror becomes routine; it loses its grip.” 

I don’t feel I can really say to much about the thoughts offered in this books because they are best as they are presented. I would recommend this book to those who love the classic dystopians like 1984 because this book  isn’t about what happened but what was discussed and in the end it will surprise you because you might think you know whats coming but it’s not as you expect. 

“In the end, living is defined by dying. Book- ended by oblivion, we are caught in the vice of terror, squeezed to bursting by the approaching end. Fear is ever-present, waiting to be called to the surface.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Read Review – Insurgent

With just days till Allegiant is released I’m really glad I have re-read these two books. I had actually forgotten quite a bit that happened in this one and although I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first it is still a great read. There is quite a lot to take in that is important to the story through out this book. We begin to get a real understanding of how powerful faction loyalty can be but more importantly the people who are capable of thinking about what’s right and wrong for themselves. The best description however for this book I think though is one from the book itself;

“Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.”

Everyone seems to have a plan in this story. There are many important characters all with secrets and Tris is able to work out almost all of them. Better than that though she knows which secret really needs to be revealed and is able to get the information she needs to change everything. What I really like about these books though is that her relationship with Tobias comes second to the dystopia. There relationship is really challenged in this one because this is reflected in the attitude Tris has and I can’t wait to see what the information she has unleashed does to their society and what is waiting on the other side of the fence.

Re-Read Review – Divergent

I remembered that I liked this books but I had forgotten just how good it is. I think I actually preferred it second time round. The book has a really interesting idea for its society but it’s the great characters that really get you turning pages. Tris is a really good character to read as because she is got an inner struggle that we all have, wanting to fit in but still be herself and do what’s right. I also really appreciated this time round that she was going through point in life where you start to realise that your parents are actually just like you and have a life you haven’t been aware of.  She also discovers the meaning of real friendship and enemies in the people around her and I they are start her path towards accepting who she really is. Of course the best relationship to read about is between her and Four and there were a few moments of swooning as the book went on. I’m really excited now to re-read Insurgent in time for the release of Allegiant later this month!.

“I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” pg 207

Wither

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

This is one that has been on my shelf for almost a year but I wanted to wait till I was 20 to read it. I was surprised to find that I really quite enjoyed the book. I have read a lot of dystopian over the past couple of years and I wasn’t how this would stand up to some of the more high action ones but I found the idea quite relatable. What really make this story is the relationships Rhine builds with the other girls who have become her sister-wives. They really do begin to act like sisters and I think that because girls do come together when they start living closely with one another it brought that bit of reality a good dystopian needs. It also added a level of emotion to the story. Although it is a story about love, and a dangerous romance blossoms between Rhine and Gabriel, the feelings she develops for the girls are stronger and although she is missing her brother she finds herself in a situation that may not have a happy ending either way. However nothing can prevent Rhine from remember the live and world she has left behind, particularly when her father-in-law is about. As she discovers more about him she is fueled even more to try to return to the freedom she longs for but she doesn’t want to go alone. I’m a bit nervous about the rest of this trilogy now though, because the ending of this one was a little perfect but there is still an imperfect dystopian society to be discovered.