Top Ten Books I Read In 2017

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So I decided to put together a list of the top ten new (to me) books that I have read this year. Now, I read some amazing books this year, but I also read some really meh books, so without further ado, here are the ten books I enjoyed the most this year.

10. Her Last Day – T. R. Ragan

I was quite impressed with Ragan’s newest offering, especially considering that I am not really a fan of the Lizzy Gardner books. I found this one to be similar but refreshing, featuring a much better story and characters that actually interest me and come across as more realistic. Worth the read, and I will certainly be checking out more books in this series as they come along.

9. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

First book I have ever read from Jim Thompson, definitely encourages me to check out more! The book is creepy in that it gets under your skin, telling the story from the perspective of a criminal, where you get a good look-see inside the mind. I liked it a lot, and I believe there is a movie now, too. I will certainly be looking into that.

8. The Innocent Wife – Amy Lloyd

Man, was this just something else or what? A debut novel from Amy Lloyd and all! The book tells the story of a woman who falls in love with and marries a man on death row, and we all know how morbidly fascinating that is. Well, The Innocent wife is well worth the read, and I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for more from her in future.

7. The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

Man, I really liked this. Fantastical, magical, dark adventure, and I quite enjoyed undertaking this journey. It sweeps you up and carries you away, and it is well worth the read.

6. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Indeed, it took me far too long to read this, but I am glad that I have. I totally get why this book is a classic. It reads pretty easily and has plenty sass and humour to it as well as a ton of social commentary, all the while going with the classic girl meets guy she hates but later doesn’t story. I was so hooked on this, and can see this being something I will return to time and time again.

5. It – Stephen King

This was one of my monster reads of the year, and I have no regrets. It is such a good book. While not King’s greatest work, it is a mammoth story that engages you throughout, and has some truly amazing character work going on. It is such a coming of age story mixed in with some solid horror, and was worth every second I spent on it.

4. The Bone Collector – Jefferey Deaver

Heck yeah, I am so stoked to finally have started this series, and it’s been a blast! The Bone Collector is one hell of an opening for a series, and I truly enjoy reading about Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. The book reads fast, has so many great twists and has plenty good humour and is good fun while still having some grit to it.

3. The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

This book was so my cup of tea. Oh yes. It is dark and gritty and explores some heavy themes, and is set out in such away you are drawn in. Amy Engel was also super cool about it all on Twitter, and I always appreciate it when an author/writer/director/actor/whatever gets involved with their fans. The Roanoke Girls explores a taboo subject, and the book is quite compelling and fascinating throughout, and tells the story of Roanoke in a really chilling way. Plus Cooper is book crush of the year for me. #JustSaying

2. The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter 

I love Karin Slaughter. She’s amazing, and a brilliantly talented writer. This was probably the book I was most excited for this year, and let me tell you, it did not let me down at all. I was yanked in from page one and got so super invested in the lives of Charlie and Sam. Wow, what a story. I loved it, and could highly recommend this Slaughter standalone. Ballsy, heavy, some absolutely fantastic humour and great characters, this is the definition of a fantastic read.

1. 11/22/63 – Stephen King

Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that, after I finished this book in January 2017, I have yet to stop hanging. This book blew my mind apart. What an amazing read! If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour, do it. Don’t let the size put you off. King weaves a masterful story with amazing characters. 11/22/63 is engaging, sharp, and stays with you long after. Yes, I am a Kennedy assassination junkie, so this was going to appeal to me, but the book is ultimately more than just attempting to stop Kennedy’s assassination. Read it. Do it. Now.

Review: After You – Jojo Moyes

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after-you-cover

Me Before You #2

SYNOPSIS: “You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.  – via Goodreads

GRADE 5Alrighty, so after months of procrastinating after reading Me Before You (and even watching that substandard movie), I finally got to this. Primarily because Natasha read it and loved it. Either way, it finally happened. I know Natasha was seriously taken with this, and while I enjoyed it, I definitely didn’t like it as much as the first. Not because all sequels suck, blah, blah, blah, because that is not the general consensus for book series, but because this one just didn’t speak to me, and Me Before You didn’t really need a sequel. Let me explain all of that.

Louisa really annoyed me in this one. Really. I get that death and loss can really ruin people, so on that front I was fine. But I was annoyed by how useless she was. She was just existing, which is pretty much what she was doing before Will came along too, so there is no way you can tell me she is like this just because of Will. She is also intent on sabotaging herself, and I really get annoyed with people who are content to play the victim, and not to strive for more in life. That’s a personal feeling of mine, but yeah. It coloured her in the book. Then there were the characters again – I liked some, I resented others, that’s just how it was.

The frenemies relationship between Lou and Treena was highlighted here again, and it is something that you can like and dislike in equal measure. I found the tone of this book to be totally different from the last, the writing style, the characters, they just seemed so loosely related to Me Before You, and I didn’t much like that. Way too different. I enjoyed reading about Josie’s feminist awakenings, but felt that they were handled terribly and the idea never really found its feet, thus making it very awkward at the best of times. It didn’t flow right. There was so much more potential to that than was realised. That being said, there were still times where this provided a smile.

The humour was greatly lacking in this book, if we are being honest. There were one or two moments where I had a good laugh (the waxing, good gracious!), but for the most part, I just read this. There was also Lily, a character that I frequently disliked. She came across as a brat. I know she was going through rough stuff and all that, but jeesh. I don’t know, I think I just wanted something of substance from this book, as the last really gave you something to chew on. This one reads like a breeze, but it also feels like it never really takes off and gets going. I liked it, but I certainly didn’t love it.

I enjoyed Sam and Donna quite a bit as characters, and found them to be interesting and entertaining. I thought a lot of the antics in this book were crazy. I was pleased to see Nathan return, as he was a character that I enjoyed. I must say that while the book brought back a lot of characters and all that, it felt like quite the generic romance novel, so I was quite let down about that. It also got really crass at times (looking specifically at Lily and how she talks to people, but also all the ways that sex was addressed in this book).

I thought After You to be unnecessary, if we are being honest. So much more could have been done, though a sequel was totally unnecessary in the first place. Instead of making this an inspiring story, adding humour, making it amazing, it is ultimately quite a bland and flat affair. I was really hoping for more, but this was really not that.

Review: The Great Gatsby – Francis Scott Fitzgerald

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THE GREAT GATSBY F SCOTT FITZGERALD COVER

After reading Keith’s review of The Great Gatsby, I decided to read the book prior to watching the film. He is one of the few that read the book and then watched the movie, and wrote a very good review. After that my interest was piqued, I need to be prepared. Best way? Start with the book, progress to the film (hopefully tonight or tomorrow night). In any event, this is my thirteenth book in my challenge.

Nick Carraway is a World War I veteran who moves to West Egg to be a bond salesman after attending Yale. He is barely making it, though he lives in a well-to-do neighbourhood, but he is the neighbour of the the most interesting millionaire, shrouded in eternal mystery: Jay Gatsby. Known for his elaborate and lavish parties, Jay Gatsby is the talk of the town, what with the wild parties every other night. Nick tells the story of the summer of 1922, and a story takes shape.

Nick knows nobody in the Long Island area save his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom. When he attends a dinner there, he meets Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy’s. They get along and enter into a relationship. Nick finds out that Tom has a mistress, a married woman named Myrtle Wilson, and has the misfortune of being involved in a party where he meets her. As the extravagant parties continue next door, Nick eventually meets Jay Gatsby, and soon they are very good friends – or as good as you can be with someone you know nothing of. Gatsby’s guests are not all invited, but a steady influx of people who will take advantage of any situation. Nobody (invited or not) knows much about the man, where his fortune comes from or what he does, and more often than not they have viscous and dark explanations as to his wealth.

Gatsby confides in Nick his love for Daisy, and that he wishes to meet with her. Jordan fills Nick in on how Gatsby and Daisy were in love long before she met Tom and married. In 1917 they had a romantic relationship. Gatsby has redefined himself as a person and a perception, even purchasing a house across from the bay from her. He is sure that their love is eternal, and that he can convince her to leave her husband, Tom, to start a life with him. He is positive that they can rekindle their romance and that he is able to give her anything and everything her life desires. Nick gets involved with reuniting them, though what happens after that he will have no control over. The awkward reunion turns warm, and soon Gatsby and Daisy spend inordinate amounts of time in each others company, until Tom soon starts suspecting that something is going on that he is not privy to, and the knowledge of his wife’s infidelity angers him greatly.

Soon confrontations abound, accusations are thrown wild, nerves are lost and shady pasts are dredged up. Irrevocable mistakes are made, and love and delusion give rise to decisions being made. Will Daisy and Gatsby rise up, will Gatsby’s driving dream become his reality?

GRADE 9The style of writing was gorgeous, and the prose beautiful and flowing. The language usage was decadent and superb, painting a picture of the times as well as the events that shaped the story, it really made this book one of the most beautifully written things that I have ever read. The further I read into this book, the more I wished that it had been a set book for me at some point in my academic career, that I could take a more in depth and detailed look into it. However, that will be my mission on my own as I continue. I kept having to remind myself that this book was written in a time where a man screwing around was acceptable, but women did not have such freedom. Gatsby was a fantastical creation, and the book is truly wonderful.

SPOILER: It was truly heartbreaking to see Gatsby was ultimately alone, that nobody came for him, that nobody stood by him. His father felt pride, because evidently Gatsby had achieved what he set out to do. His need to protect his love eventually led to his death and demise. Daisy was shallow, and he was caught up in the dream that he could have it all. He reinvented himself for her, not only himself. 

Book Challenge 2013

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Keep Calm and Read A Book

Yep, that’s right. I think that this is where I am in life now. I blame this inspiration entirely on my friend Natasha. I just have to get out of my reading slump, which has slowly but surely been becoming a reality, and the more I read about her antics, the more I want to read more, if that makes any sense!

So I decided to immerse myself in a book challenge (while still keeping up with my addiction to movies and series). I need to establish how many, but for the meanwhile, let’s play it safe and call it fifty books for the year, and I can calculate the few that I have read for 2013 so far. We will make it a 2013 fifty book challenge. That is a reasonable amount, it is enough to get the juices flowing. It is not an excessive amount, granted, but it is a place to start. I can do this. So any book suggestions, pass them along to me and I will look into them!

Check out Natasha’s hundred book journey for the year so far, and wish me luck!

The reading bug has reared its head…

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Magical Books

Finally! I was wondering if this was ever going to regulate for me again! I love reading, and over the last few months I have done virtually none, which in itself is bizarre. It may be the fact that I have been overly busy, or trying to read books that are really just doing nothing in terms of reeling me in. I blame that for my despondency to read!

It all began with Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. Just like that, I was hooked again, but still trying to stretch out the time it takes me to finish them. Maybe that way the desire to read will not end when the books are over? Who knows, we will see, but I can see many books being read in my foreseeable future, as well as a few new ones, but they are not so much novels as biographies. I have a suspicion I will be revisiting the Potter universe soon enough, too, as well as Stephen King’s Darktower series… Any suggestions out there as to good authors and great reads?

Wish me luck, I am on this mission to consume as much as I can! What do you do to free yourself when you get into a reading slump?

Dexter… a book purist’s nightmare, a screen junkie’s dream

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It is virtually unheard of where a screen counterpart completely dominates its original birthplace of pages, but once every so often it does happen. One of the most prominent cases of this happening is with Dexter.

I started watching Dexter roughly the same time it started airing. I was completely captivated. This was something new. It used to be all about the movies, and series sucked, but in the last few years things have drastically changed. Movies just aren’t what they used to be, and series are filling a void so completely, it is scary to think that there was a stage where it was  not so. More time, energy and effort went into movies. Series are now the way to go.

It used to be viewed that an actor’s career was waning when they were cast for a series  How the times have changed…

Moving back to where I was… Dexter.

I love Dexter. I was so in love with the execution of the show, and then saw in the intro that the story was based on a book. Ever the book purist, I figured that if the show was that amazing, the book could only be better. This was my very rational and this time flawed logic. It never happens that screen tops pages. This was one of them.

I bought the Dexter omnibus, featuring the first three titles from Jeff Lindsay. I began with the wretched pages of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, and read through it.  I concluded my first foray into the sheets of Dexter, thinking it was roughly the same as what I had been watching, so the show was not doing too badly with breathing screen life into the story of Dexter.

I left the omnibus for quite a while then moved along to the second part of my trilogy, Dearly Devoted Dexter. I would like to clear it up, I was not reading the books and comparing everything to the series, like you would when you watch a movie and have read the book. I was hoping for something great. I hadn’t exactly loved the first one, but I had enjoyed the story. Then I began part two. Everything about it was substandard. The dialogue, the execution of events, the progression with the story and, most frustratingly, the character development. The more I read, the more convinced I became that Dexter was far suited for screen as opposed to the book that I had in my hand.

It took me months before I attempted a third venture, and I have only read two chapters from it. I cannot progress further. I don’t know what it is, but there is nothing awesome about these books. Nothing that drives me to want to know more. I feel that they are sloppy. It is so sad. It was a story that had potential, that had drive. Instead, the series knocked me off of my feet and the books left me highly disorientated.

Usually a story changes when it comes to life on a screen, and things change. Usually the execution is what drives me crazy. In Dexter, it was the way to go. I don’t know, but the series was far superior to the books.