Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Update XI & XII

I completely forgot to update for November!  I just finished the challenge!!  It was fun, but I'm definitely ready for a break from reading.  I read seven books in November and only one in December if that tells you anything about how burned out (and busy) I am.

These aren't going to be in order because I was reading some of them at the same time (on two different devices) and I don't remember which ones I finished first.  So for November we have...

I started reading Drama Geek, a free book on Amazon Kindle app, because I finished one in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep.  My first impression was "Ahhhhhh another first person, present tense ahhhhh!!!!!!"  Seriously why doesn't anyone write in past tense anymore??  After I got over that I actually really liked it.  It definitely was aimed at young adults, because I'm not sure most parents would want their teens reading this (language and suggestiveness).  The use of all caps for yelling was extremely annoying and really pulled me out of the story, but overall I enjoyed it and read it in two days.  It had a few typos and tense inconsistencies, but not enough to really bother me (or maybe I'm just numb to them after the one in October....).

I chose Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes for my book with a number in the title because it's the first free one I found with a number in the title hehe.  I was happy to find that although this one was in first person it was in past tense!  Yay!  It was silly and weird, but I really loved it.  Seriously anyone with a sense of humor that likes love stories, character growth and a bit of a (slightly predictable) mystery will love this one.  I read it in two or three days.  It had a few typos, but not enough to really bother me.

I chose Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles for my book that is over a hundred years old.  I have been curious about the Sherlock Holmes books for a long time because it has a huge fan base, people make references to it everywhere, it's mentioned in the dog mysteries series I read and the TV series looks interesting.  I was tired of not being in the know, so I used this as an opportunity to read one.  I don't know if my expectations were too high or if I just forgot that it was written over a hundred years ago, but it was difficult to get through.  I think I've been reading too many of these really simple books, so it took me a while to get used to the verbose language in this one.  I used to only read classics.  I grew up reading them.  I teethed on them.  They aren't foreign to me, it's just been a while and I'm a little rusty.  I also think I knew at one time that these were written in first person point of view and that they weren't in Sherlock's point of view, but I had completely forgotten that when I first started reading this.  It threw me off a bit and I had a really hard time getting into it.  In the end I enjoyed it and I liked the mystery.  It was slow paced and although reading it was a grind, my lasting impression of it is favorable.

I chose The Scarlet Letter for a banned book because I read that 140 years later it was still being banned (reference link)......  It was awful.  It took me over a week to read it because I just couldn't concentrate on it for long periods of time.  The biggest problem is I was reading it on my tablet so the internet was only a click away.  It was easy to get distracted with something more interesting.  I would even find myself having read several pages with no memory of what I read because I was thinking about something else.  I didn't read the intro... the information at the end of the book was more interesting than the actual book.  There was a summary of the story at the end that basically told the whole story in three pages!!!!  It was truly agony getting through this book.  I'm not normally put off by long descriptions, but this book was so full of excess words that there were no actions.  Each chapter was long, but very little actually happened in them.  One whole chapter was her recognizing someone standing in a crowd... the whole chapter!!!  It was just overkill.

I finished Scarlet Letter and was desperate to read something else, so I went through the free books looking for anything in past tense.  Senseless Attraction was the first one I found.  It was in first person, but I didn't mind as long as it wasn't present tense.  The first third of the book was interesting and a quick read.  Then it left on a cliffhanger and went to a whole new set of characters (but at least it was still in present tense... I have when they change tenses).  I've never been fond of books that switch point of view characters mid book, especially in first person, so I was irritated, but I kept reading anyway.  In no time I'd guessed what would happen.  The ending was very predictable.

The last half of the book (it was actually in three parts) was switching back and forth between the characters in each chapter... annoying.  The worst part is how much the personalities changed.  It's like the first two parts were written and then the author forgot everything about the characters in the last part.  They were even using pet named they had never used before.  It was very jarring.  Overall they would have been decent stories if they had been stand alone, but the way it was pieced together just didn't work for me.

It had that annoying high school drama "are you really that stupid" vibe, but it wasn't that bad.  I just didn't like how it was separated into three parts.  Also the parents were really weird and annoying.  Normal parents don't act that way and their jobs conveniently kept them out of the way so the kids could get into mischief.  So it was... eh.

I chose The Catcher in the Rye for a book I should have read in high school because I read somewhere that the protagonist's fear for adulthood would make this book easy to relate to.  Seriously???  He wanders around New York for a few days and does basically nothing.  Nothing happens.  He learns nothing.  Nothing changes.  I don't want to give away too much about it so I won't bother saying anything else except every other word was practically a cuss word.  He also repeated himself a lot.  He called everyone old, said he hated everyone, everyone was a bore and he added "and all" to almost everything he said!  Maybe the only way I could relate to this is if I was a teenager?  Or a boy?  The absolute only thing I found endearing was his perception of time and the way he said something happened ten hours later (when it was just a few minutes) or he was a kid fifty years ago (when he's only a teen) because I used to do that (and probably still do).  The whole exaggeration of time for effect.  I've been known to call something older than dirt when in reality it's only a decade old or whatever.  At least that part made me grin.  Everything else was.... pointless.

I chose The Diary of a Young Girl for my memoir.  I could relate to Anne Frank a lot more than Holden from Catcher in the Rye.  Maybe it's just a gender thing?  A teenage girl is easier to relate to than a boy for me I guess (which is why when I write my main character is always a girl!).  I can't believe I hadn't read this book earlier.  I read a version that had all of her original, uncensored writings in it (I think the first version published was edited by her father to keep from making people look bad).  It had a lot of information in the back too.  I've never read a book that is basically a compilation of diary entries before, but it didn't bother me at all.  It made the book quick to read because the chapters were short and sweet.  There wasn't a lot of word fill if that makes sense.  As I read this book, knowing it was a true story, my heart broke for Anne.  The things she went through, the things she missed out on, knowing what happened to her before I started reading, etc.  It all made reading it very emotional for me.  I'm a very empathetic person.  I could easily imagine what it would have been like to be in her position as I read.  It is a valuable book to read for perspective, but it is heartbreaking.  I wish things could have been different.  I wish she could have known that she managed to write a book that is still being read so many years later (she wanted to be a writer).  Anyway I could go on and on, but I'd be saying the same things over again.  I'm very glad I read this book.

That was all for November.  For December there is only one book and that finished out my 2015 Reading Challenge!!

I chose Nora Roberts' Irish Thoroughbred for a popular author's first book.  It had horses in it!  Easy choice!  The amount of time it took me to read this is no reflection on the book.  I was just finally tired of reading and was busy doing other things.  I went for a couple of weeks in the middle of this book without reading it.  I enjoyed it, although it wasn't nearly as good as her later stuff (obviously).  She's grown a lot as an author from her first book.  I enjoyed the characters, but the story was a little slow and just lacked some meat to it.  It just couldn't hold my interest very well with all the other stuff going on right now (need to do a blog post!).  I actually have the trilogy that is linked above so I'm going to go ahead and read the other two books, but it's not part of the challenge so they won't be listed here.

So that brings the challenge to an end.  I really enjoyed this!  It was so fun to keep track of everything I read for a year and sharing my impressions of them.  I think I'm going to continue tracking what I read and writing my impressions, even if I don't share them here.  It's really fun to go back and read what I thought of a book.  :D  I hope you enjoyed following my reading challenge.  My mom did it too (she's the one who introduced me to the idea) and she totally smoked me.  She's a fast reader!!  My dad loves to read too.  It's no wonder I love it.  It's just in my genes hehe.

Here is the final list.  It does not include a book I didn't finish and a book I reread.  It does include new books I read that may not apply to the list.  My total for the year was fifty eight (can't forget the trilogy) and a half books.  I'm linking each book to the post about them instead of to Amazon like they are in my sidebar.

1. Share & Share Alike by Hannah Hooten for a book I started but never finished.
2. Barker Street Regular (Dog Lover's Mystery) by Susan Conant for a mystery or thriller.
3. Trixie Beldon Book 1 The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell Tatham for a book I can finish in a day.
4. Trixie Beldon Book 2 Red Trailer Mystery by Julie Campbell Tatham for a book with a color in the title.
5. Trixie Beldon Book 3 The Gatehouse Myster by Julie Campbell Tathem for a book your mom loves.
6. Playing For Love (Summer Beach Vets 1) - Escape Down Under -  by H.Y. Hanna for a book set in a different country.
7. Curse of the Scarabs by H.Y. Hanna for a book with nonhuman characters.
8. Evil Breeding by Susan Conant for a book from an author I love that I hadn't read yet.
9. Unlisted for a book written by an author with my initials.
10. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns for a book that became a movie.
11. Creature Discomforts by Susan Conant for a book I own but hadn't read yet.
12. To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for a Pulitzer Prize winning book.
13. Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce for a book with magic.
14. TinTin in Tibet by Herge for a graphic novel.
15. Dragon Fantastic for a book of short stories.
16. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell for a book with more than 500 pages.
17. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for a book that was originally written in a different language.
18. The Perfect Date by R.L. Stine for a book from my childhood.
19. Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts for a book by a female author.
20. The I's of Iris by Gayle Sliva for a book by an author I'd never read before.
21. Melting Into You by Tracey Alvaraz for a book set somewhere I've always wanted to visit.
22. The Rancher's Promise by Jillian Hart for a book based entirely on it's cover.
23.  The Playboy's Redemption by Diana Fraser for a book a friend recommended.
24. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde for a play.
25. Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson for a book that scares me.
26.  Playing to Win by H.Y. Hanna wasn't part of the challenge.
27.  The Netherfield Affair by Penelope Swan for a book published this year.
28. Hunger Games by Susanne Collins for a trilogy.
29.  Aurora by Steve Lowe for a book at the bottom of my to read list.
30.  Red Rising by Pierce Brown for a book written by someone under 30.
31.  Summer Beach Bride (Summer Beach Vet series) by H.Y. Hanna wasn't part of the challenge. 
32.  Wicked by Gregory Maguire for a book with bad reviews.
33.  Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham for a book based on or turned into a TV show.
34.  He Sees You When You're Sleeping by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark for a book set during Christmas,
35.  Hot Ice by Nora Roberts for a book with antonyms in the title.
36.  Birthright by Nora Roberts for a book with a one word title.
37.  Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy by Douglas Adams for a funny book.
38. The Wicked Flea by Susan Conant wasn't part of the list.
39. The summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han for a book that made me cry.
40. Sing For Us by Steven Wise for a book based on a true story.
41. Rebecca  by Daphne Du Maurier for a classic romance.
42.  Anxiety by Chris Kelly for a nonfiction book.
43.  Confessions of a Kleptomaniac by Jessica Sorensen for a book set in high school.
44.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for a book with a love triangle.
45.  Unlisted for a book set in my hometown,
46. Unlisted for a book that came out the year I was born.
47. B The Exxtinction by Santiago Mantilla for a book set in the future.
48.  Drama Geek by SM Dritschilo wasn't part of the challenge.
49.  Twenty-Eight and a half Wishes by Denis Grover Swank for a book with a number in the title.
50.  Sherlock Holmes Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arther Conan Doyle for a book over 100 years old.
51.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne for a banned book.
52.  Senseless Attraction  by Lila Rose wasn't part of the challenge.
53.  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for a book I should have read in high school but didn't.
54.  Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank for a memoir.
55.  Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts for a first book by a popular author.

The Amazon links are in the sidebar or on the individual posts.  That was a lot of fun!  Now bear with me and I'll try to get an update post up soon.  I know I've been very scarce in bloggerland lately.  Everything is fine, so no worries!