Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Year of Reading...Done!

In January 2013 I entered the Goodreads reading challenge setting myself at 100 books to be read in 2013.

I can very proudly say, I met my challenge!!! 

I read 101 books in the year.  I will admit that a few of them were re-reads, but I still count them towards the goal!

Toward the end of the year I suffered through some very frantic reading.  I had let myself fall behind and wasn't sure I would make the goal.  However, after a couple "light" reads, I found myself back on track.

Below is the list of books I read in 2013 and I have arranged them but my star ratings.

ONE STAR (books I really hated)

Message In A Bottle - Nicholas Sparks - predictable romantic tragedy
Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee - depressing & dark
The Pact - Jodi Picouolt - everything wrong with Generation X
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf - self indulgent tripe
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - sadistic, boring, predictable
The Things We Cherished - Pam Jenoff - disappointing 
Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale - a disgrace to all things Austen
The Choice - Robert Whitlow - proving again how banal Christian lit can be
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes - a quad intent on euthanasia? how thrilling.
The Dinner - Herman Koch - pretentious useless crap

TWO STARS (books I didn't mind/tolerated)

Mud City - Deborah Ellis - the third book of a trilogy that betrayed me
Heaven's Wager - Ted Dekker - Dekker takes a wrong turn with a horrible attempt to write like Frank Peretti
Death of a Kingfisher - M.C. Beaton - Hamish needs to make some serious life changes

On the Island - Tracey Garvis-Graves - twisted weird romance between student & teacher, vomit
Glazed Murder - Jessica Beck - painfull dull, boring characters
A Soft Place to Land - Susan White - can barely remember it. exactly.
Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James - leave Austen alone
The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve - a hot mess of a book. minus the hot.
The Hour I First Believed - Wally Lamb - deserves a one just for the sheer size and rambling. I felt charitable.
Rescue - Anita Shreve - so much predictability and boringness. ugh.
After You - Julie Buxbaum - someone dies, family is sad, time heals. blah blah blah.
Love Anthony - Lisa Genova - disappointing compared to author's previous novels
Love the One You're With - Emily Griffin - staple PMS novel, not good for much else
The Distant Hours - Kate Morton - gothic romantic tragedy that left me dying inside
Next to Love - Ellen Feldman - another silly insipid romance

Beyond Belief - Jenna Miscavige Hill - a look into Scientology that leaves a lot of questions

THREE STARS (books I liked)

The Breadwinner - Deborah Ellis - 1st book of trilogy, solid start
Parvana's Journey - Deborah Ellis - 2nd book of trilogy, great continuation

Forever in Blue: 4th Summer of the Sisterhood
 - Ann Brashares - the usual goodness
Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares - disappointing end to a great series

The Passing Bells - Phillip Rock - 1st book, meet characters
Circles of Time - Phillip Rock - 2nd book, follow characters through trials and tribulations
The Future Arrived - Phillip Rock - 3rd book, decent ending, anti-climatic

The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton - typical Kate Morton with creepy romance
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd - loved this book! would have given it more stars if it had moved a bit faster
The Outcast - Sadie Jones - gripping read but also dissatisfying
The Winter Palace - Eva Stachniak - long long, dragging, but enlightening
The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom - I enjoyed this quite a bit but didn't find the characters well fleshed out.
What Alice Forgot - Liana Moriarty - I should have given this book a two.  It was okay, minus the ending.
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - not as compelling and hilarious as I was assured, but still good
My Sister's Keeper - Jodie Picoult - the only Picoult I can slightly stand
The Fault in our Stars - John Green - again, over-hyped, but decent for what it was--a story of doomed teenagers
Sycamore Row - John Grisham - not Grisham's strongest, but not his worst. acceptable.  
The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich - I liked this book quite a bit, but the narrative was lacking and the ending was TOO SOON.  
A Kingdom Far and Clear - Mark Helprin - kids book, creepy like Grimms Tales. I enjoyed.
The Other Typist - Suzanne Rindell - mind games galore in this novel.  bit of a frustrating read
State of Wonder - Ann Patchett - could have given this 4 star rating had it not been for annoying characters
The Summer We Read Gatsby - Danielle Ganek - this probably deserves a 2 star. usual easy summer read. nothing memorable.
Jackdaws - Ken Follett - solid Follett. enjoyed this while camping. 
Alice Bliss - Laura Harrington - don't remember what this was about. enough said.
22 Britannia Road - Amanda Hodgkinson - okay. too much going on IMHO.
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald - no review needed.
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell - dragged on a bit. mini-series much more enjoyable thanks to Richard Armitage
The Shoemaker's Wife - Adriana Trigiani - epic sweeping novel with very little pay off. 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman - deserves a 4 but creeped me out a bit too much
Joyland - Stephen King - lacking the creeptastic King factor, sadly.
How To Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You - Matthew Inman - I laughed
The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje - very poetic, very confusing, lots of teeth gnashing

The Nuremberg Trials - Paul Roland - enlightening
Growing Up Amish: A Memoir - Ira Wagler - totally depressing
My Story - Elizabeth Smart - triumph! go Elizabeth, go!
Stolen Innocence - Elissa Wall - sad sad sad.  sad. 

FOUR STARS (book I really liked)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley
A Red Herring Without Mustard - Alan Bradley
I Am Half Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley
Speaking from Among the Bones - Alan Bradley
I loved all these books.  A series well worth the read.

A Game of Thrones - George Martin - the book that started the GOT craze. I'm still sad about Ned Stark.
A Clash of Kings - George Martin - easily as good as the first book in the series, ACOK brings it all back, although some complain that this book has too much military strategy clogging it up
A Storm of Swords - George Martin - better than two and four, although slow at the ending
A Feast for Crows - George Martin - seriously, the worst book of the series. thank God Martin gets it together in the next novel.
A Dance with Dragons - George Martin - after a horrible fourth book, ADWD brings back the typical Martin craziness. 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares - the first novel that started it all, this is the best one of the entire series
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares - ditto, as above
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares - typical sisterhood novel

Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese - rich description, grand story, historical fiction, eye popping, very much enjoyed this story
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson - easy quick sweet read
Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants - The Oatmeal - comic relief. I guffawed out loud while reading.
The Good Dream - Donna VanLiere - I loved this book.  It's about tied for my favourite for 2013 reads.  A story of love and redemption.
Jericho Season 3 - Dan Shotz - A bit of cheat read, but a great graphic novel continuance on the cancelled show
Shelter Me - Juliette Fay - a young mother learning how to deal with immense loss. I love this book, probably more than it deserves.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford - very enjoyable. the main character was so endearing.
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy - A classic must read
Banker - Dick Francis - I love all of Francis's books and wish they were movies or tv shows. This one is particularly tragic.
N or M? - Agatha Christie - the queen of mystery, a quick read, like meeting an old friend for a chat.
Evil Under the Sun - Agatha Christie - she's back with a classic Poirot. I enjoyed this re-read.
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman - a master at his craft, I'm so glad I discovered Gaiman this year

Mrs. Mike - Benedict Freedman - Perfect for Canadians, a romance growing in the darkness of the truth north
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon - gothic, dark, creepy, historic fiction...absolute must read!
The Soldier's Wife - Margaret Leroy - probably too highly rated, but I loved the descriptions in this novel
The Lost Wife - Alyson Richman - my favourite novel of 2013, I believe. so wonderful and heart-breaking.
Those Who Save Us - Jenna Blum - I read many historical fiction novels this year about WWII. this one was a good one.
The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak - As with above, historical fiction about WWII but written in the strangest format I have ever seen...highly recommend. Plunge through the confusion.
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier - this novel puts Kate Morton's work in her place. the start of gothic romance, this is a creepy novel in which we never learn the main character's name!

Escape from Camp 14 - Blaine Harden - shocking memoir of life in the work camps of North Korea
A House in the Sky - Amanda Lindhout - best non-fiction book I read this year. shocking memoir of a Canadian woman taken by Somalians and held for 460 days.  gut wrenching. 


Goodnight Mister Tom - Michelle Magorian - a novel for kids, a must read, disturbing elements but sweet at the end
Fall of Giants - Ken Follett - best historical fiction novel I have ever read. highly recommend.
Winter of the World - Ken Follett - a follow up to Fall of Giants, this novel was also amazing and a very gripping read. I learned so much from both of his books.
A Dog's Purpose - W. Bruce Cameron - the sweetest book I have read about a dog. I loved it.  I can't say more for fear of spoiling it, but do read it if you have a dog or love dogs. 

And there you have it!  All of my book in a list. I realize it's probably very overwhelming to read the entire list, but I hope you at least peruse the four or five star categories as many of those novels are must reads!  

This year I won't be setting such a high challenge as I will be busy...GETTING MARRIED!

What are your New Year's reading challenges?

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