Annual Reading Challenge

This year we are once more taking part in the annual reading challenge. We started doing this challenge last year and really enjoyed it. This year two people close to me have each chose five books for me to read during 2017. I will go through each set of recommended reads starting from least to most anticipated.

The first set of books are as follows:

1. The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn

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I read Gone Girl a couple of years ago and I really disliked it so this one is not top of my list but the point of this reading challenge is to read books that you wouldn’t normally pick up or haven’t got around to reading. This one is definitely one I wouldn’t pick up. Although I do like to read at least two works by an author before I pass judgement.  The GrownUp is about:

A Young woman making a living faking it as a cut price psychic (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side.) She makes a decent wage mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke.

Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15 year-old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home. The young woman doesn’t believe in exorcism or the supernatural. However when she enters the house for  the first time, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time…. 

 

2. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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This one I’m looking forward to although I would probably never get around to buying it myself as there is just so many books higher on my list. I will most definitely watch the movie after reading the novel. I am a little apprehensive about the issues touched upon in the novel, more specifically Early-Onset Alzheimer’s as it will be difficult to read about. This also makes me dubious about the quality of the novel as it is a very challenging subject to write about in fiction. Blurb…

Alice is just fifty when she finds herself in a downward spiral, increasingly disoriented and forgetful. A university professor, wife and mother of three, she has books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But now a tragic diagnosis early-onset Alzeimer’s disease is set to change her life- and her relationship with her family and the world- forever. 

Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging by a frayed thread. But she is still Alice.

3. Angelfall by Susan Ee

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I am intrigued by this novel about an angel apocalypse. A rare hardly-talked-about YA dystopia. I have little to go on with this one so here is the blurb…

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen year old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-straved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in SanFrancisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

4. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

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Another book with its own movie, so its safe to say I’m excited for this one. It’s also the only classic novel recommended to me this year. As I’m hoping to read more classics this year than ever before therefore I am grateful for this recommendation. Sophie’s Choice is a very famous story though I am not aware of any of the details so I am still expecting a few surprises.

Stingo, an inexperienced twenty-year-old Southerner, takes us back to the summer of 1947 and a boarding house in a leafy Brooklyn suburb. There he meets Nathan, a fiery Jewish intellectual; and Sophie, a beautiful and fragile Polish Catholic. Sting is drawn into the heart of their passionate and destructive relationship as witness, confidant and supplicant. Ultimately, he arrives at the dark core of Sophie’s past: her memories of pre-war Poland, the concentration camp and-  the essence of her terrible secret- her choice.

5. Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw

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I am really looking forward to this novel. Interestingly, four of the five authors recommended to me here I’ve never read before. I am expecting another emotional novel and simply can’t wait for this one:

In the hustle and bustle of sixties Indonesia, two orphaned brothers are adopted by very different families: Johan, by a wealthy Malaysian couple living in Kuala Lumpur, and Adam, by a Dutch painter, Karl, from a simple coastal town in Indonesia. As they grow up, Adam often wonders about his older brother, while Johan is wracked with guilt at the memory of leaving him.

In Indonesia itself, the shadow of colonialism is causing civil unrest; and foreigners are treated with increasing hostility, especially the Dutch. When Karl is arrested, Adam vows to do everything he can to find him.

This extraordinary tale perfectly captures the turmoil of a country teetering on the brink of war; and the experiences of the two young men in an exotic yet turbulent and often frightening world.

The second set of recommended reads are:

1. Half Bad by Sally Green

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Out of this selection of recommended reads Half Bad is my least anticipated novel. Simply because, yet again, I do not know much about it and have not heard many reviews. Also, I have only just noticed that the red pattern on the book is actually a face, I thought it was blood/smoke before but that’s a whole other story, I am really not observant. Blurb…

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

2. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

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Similarly to the Gillian Flynn novel I have previously read a novel I did not enjoy by Maggie Stiefvater. I read Lament a couple of years ago and was not a fan. However my sister is a big fan of Stiefvater and I am more than willing to give Sinner a fair chance. This is a companion novel to the Shiver, Linger and Forever Trilogy. I have taken the blurb from Goodreads and am not expecting to be blown away, I am going into it with an open mind nevertheless…

found.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn’t just want her. He needs her.

lost.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It’s not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes…but what’s the point? What is there to win?

sinner.
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go. 

3. Monster by Naoki Urasawa

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As previously mentioned I started reading Manga last year and I am eager to read more. I have heard that the Monster series is like Deathnote minus the supernatural elements. I’ve yet to find out for myself but it’s fair to say this is a highly anticipated read! Blurb…

Everyone faces uncertainty at some point in their lives. Even a brilliant surgeon like Kenzo Tenma is no exception. But there’s no way for him to know that his decision to stop chasing professional success and instead concentrate on his oath to save peoples’ lives will result in the birth of an abomination. The questions of good and evil now take on a terrifyingly real dimension.

Years later, in Germany during the tumultuous post-reunification period, middle-aged childless couples are being killed one after another.
The serial killer’s identity is known.
The reasons why he kills are not.
Dr. Tenma sets out on a journey to find the killer’s twin sister, who may hold some clues to solving the enigma of the “Monster.”

4. Rumi

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I have also been challenged to read poetry! I couldn’t be happier with this choice especially because I have not read Rumi (Other than a few lines) before. I will without a doubt be writing a posted dedicated to Rumi’s poetry.

5. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

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Marlowe is a familiar figure to me due to my English degree and I’m really really excited to read another play this year. Every time someone recommends a play to me I read it, unfortunately, this rarely happens. Hopefully that will change and hopefully I will be recommending this play to people soon. The blurb (as it’s a play) is short but attention-grabbing…

One of the glories of Elizabethan drama: Marlowe’s powerful retelling of the story of the learned German doctor who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.

Have you read any of the novels/poetry or the play mentioned above? If so, what did you think?

Sophie

 

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4 thoughts on “Annual Reading Challenge

  1. Gone Girl was just weird. I mean I kind of liked the psychological mumbo-jumbo but not enough to like this.

    Angelfall and Rumi are on my TBR…hopefully I’ll get around reading them this year.

    Half Bad…how I should I put this. It’s worth a read if you’re a fantasy junkie and you appreciate the genre A LOT, otherwise it might not be like wow best read ever. And same with Sinner. GEE!! I didn’t see the face before you said it was face not fire…

    Deathnote is just epic.

    Liked by 1 person

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