Consuming – Shelter by Jung Yun

Shelter

by Jung Yun

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary / Thriller

“He shakes his head and glances at Gertie, who hasn’t said a word since she turned toward the window. Her eyebrows are angled sharply into a frown, and her mouth is open as if she means to speak, but can’t.

“Is something wrong with the yard?” he asks.

Slowly, she lifts her finger and taps on the glass. “I think that woman out there – I think she might be naked.

 

Kyung is the son of Korean parents, and lives with his American wife and son. His upbringing, while lavish, was lacking in affection and warmth, and his connection with his parents as an adult is shaky. But when an act of unspeakable violence suddenly impacts the family, they find themselves thrown together and having to confront their issues from the past and deal with their internal demons.

 

Janelle says…

This book was such a pleasant surprise. I’m still thinking about the story and how much I loved it.

I was expecting a story roughly centred around Asian immigrants trying to make a life in America. I don’t know where I got that expectation from, but I was wrong. This is an exploration of family dynamics and secrets, particularly within non-Western cultures. It looks at both gender and race. It deals with grief and trauma, and it packs quite a few tough scenes. It’s certainly not an easy read, but it’s so thoughtful and moving, and leaves a lot to ponder.

What struck me most about this book was just how much it packed in, and how appealing it would be to a wide range of readers. You’ll notice I’ve categorised it as both literary fiction and thriller, and it’s true – I can’t completely dump it within either category. The plot kept me keen the whole way through, every time I had to put the book down I couldn’t wait to get back to it to find out what else it had in store. It had a few unexpected turns, and I questioned my views on various characters time and again. It kept moving at a steady pace which is something that’s important to me to keep my attention.

Shelter was both shattering and entertaining. It was just a solid, enjoyable read. It would be perfect for book clubs, I think you could discuss this with other people for hours. One of my favourite reads so far this year. Highly recommended!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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How do you read so much?

 

Janelle says…

I get asked this question all the time. I work five days a week, I have two children, I go to the gym and do yoga, and I read. I don’t feel like I read a huge amount, I average about one book per week. But for some people, that’s a lot more reading than they themselves manage. They can’t fathom how I can get this amount of reading done along with tending to all my other responsibilities and obligations, which may be similar to what they have going on in their own lives. So I’m always being asked, “How do you find the time?”. Here’s how I find it:

 

Audiobooks

In my opinion this is the quickest way to increasing the number of books you read. If you listen to books on audio, you can listen to them at times when it is impossible to be reading a print or e-book. In the car. In the morning while getting ready for work. At the gym. While you take the dog for a walk. While you hang out the washing. While you pick up the dog poop off the lawn. While you make dinner. I listen to audiobooks in all of the above scenarios, and let me tell you, if I consistently always had an audiobook on the go, I would double the number of books I get through, guaranteed. It’s also a lot easier to get your hands on audiobooks than you might think – public libraries have them available for loan on mp3, trusty old cd, or through the free BorrowBox app so you can listen on your phone.

 

Reading on my lunch break

I can’t function during the day unless I have a lunch break away from my desk, and I try to make sure that break includes reading. Preferably outside in the sun. Not only is this very good for you, especially if you work at a desk in front of a screen like me, but it will help push you through those pages faster. It all adds up!

 

Reading every night

I also can’t function unless I read every night. At least in bed before sleep, if not during the time leading up to going to bed. This is when I get most of my reading done. If I manage to devote myself entirely to reading for the night after the kids go to sleep, this gives me at least a good one-and-a-half hours of page turning. There are plenty of other distractions though, like my phone and Netflix, so this is about dedication and prioritising how you want to spend your time. If you would like to spend more of your evening time reading, you simply need to make that commitment to yourself. Leave your phone in another room or turn it off. Grab a blanket and a cup of tea, and sit in a quiet comfy corner somewhere and just immerse yourself in it.

 

Sign up for a reading challenge

Maybe you’re the competitive type who would be spurned on by a challenge? There are plenty of them out there, to suit whatever it is you would like to get out of your reading. Simply want to read more books? Try the Goodreads annual reading challenge. Want to diversify and broaden your reading horizons? Give the Book Riot Read Harder challenge a go. I wrote a post about some reading challenges taking place in 2017, so check that out for some suggestions if you’d like to add a bit of extra motivation to your reading life.

 

Start a book blog with your sister so you feel obligated to read

That way you’ll have to read at least one thing every month, lest you be shamed in front of the whole internet!

 

Have I missed anything? Do you have any other tips for bringing more reading in to your life?

 

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Buddy Read – The Girls by Emma Cline

March 2017 – Mel’s choice

The Girls

by Emma Cline

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“I didn’t tell him that I wished I’d never met Suzanne. That I wished I’d stayed safely in my bedroom in the dry hills near Petaluma, the bookshelves packed tight with the gold-foil spines of my childhood favourites. And I did wish that. But some nights, unable to sleep, I peeled an apple slowly at the sink, letting the curl lengthen under the glint of the knife. The house dark around me. Sometimes it didn’t feel like regret. It felt like a missing.”

1969. California. Fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd is living a standard suburban teenage life- trying to make sense of her split family situation, learning about herself, noticing boys. And noticing the group of scruffy, devil-may-care girls who keep crossing her path. Something about them is alluring to her. One of them in particular sticks in her mind, and through some coincidental events, Evie manages to weave her way into their group and become entwined in their lives. Living off the grid, she experiences drugs and sex, and very quickly leaves her old life behind. However the influence of the group’s “leader”, Russell, is about to become something more than she could have ever foreseen.

 

Mel says…

I chose this book for our March Buddy Read as I had heard such amazing reviews. Celebrities were posting about it and it made me want to find out what all the fuss was about.

At the start, I enjoyed the writing style of Emma Cline. The back and forth from past to present was intriguing, for about half the book. I found the present day Evie to become irrelevant. There seemed no real logical explanation for bothering with present day Evie. She added zero value to the storyline, in my opinion and I began getting irritated when I would turn the page and there she would be, for the next 10-20 pages.

From start to finish, I was expecting something….more. I felt like I was constantly on the brink of some huge revelation in Evie’s life, that never came. She was the kind of protagonist that you wish would be killed off in the dying pages. She was infuriating and I just couldn’t get on board with her way of thinking, even when I tried stepping back into teenage-Mel’s shoes.

I think the saving grace for me was the plot itself. I have always been intrigued with real life crime stories and this was very closely related to the Charles Manson story. The cult following, the era and the murders. This is what kept me reading and I have to admit, by the end, I was somewhat relieved it was over and was severely disappointed!

It took me weeks to write this review after finishing The Girls. Partly because of my poor time management, but mainly due to the fact that as the days wore on, I forgot what actually occurred. If I could sum this book up in one word it would be; Forgettable!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

Well, it started out ok.

It’s no secret that this story is meant to be reminiscent of the evolution of the Manson family. But if you’re going into it expecting a lot of gruesome details and a focus on the murders, you’ll be disappointed. This is a story about puberty, love, friendships, and learning about oneself – your limitations, your image, your self-restraint.

As far as a book that studies the above topics goes, it doesn’t do a bad job. If I was reading this about 15 years ago, I probably would have felt very connected to the internal challenges that the main character Evie faces. I could definitely identify with her at certain times, particularly in her defiant moments.

But…..that’s it. In all honesty I just found this to be, well, boring. I had the scene all figured out within the first 100 pages or so, I didn’t need it to go on with the same stuff for the next 250. It probably didn’t help that I had already read reviews and opinions on this book when it first came out, but still, that didn’t stop me wanting to read it. Now that I have read it though, I found it lacking in substance, and basically just forgettable.

Teens and other people into YA would probably really enjoy this, but personally I think I just can’t be interested in teenage girl problems. I wasn’t interested in them when I was a teenage girl myself. Sorry not sorry.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Surreal – Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

 

 Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Literary / Horror

“You’re confused, and that’s not good for this story. I’m a normal boy.”

“This isn’t normal, David. There’s only darkness, and you’re talking into my ear. I don’t even know if this is really happening.”

“It’s happening, Amanda. I’m kneeling at the edge of your bed, in one of the rooms at the emergency clinic. We don’t have much time, and before time runs out we have to find the exact moment.”

 

Amanda lies in a clinic, talking to the young David. What transpires between them is confounding, eerie, and unsettling. As they, and you, try to put the pieces together, they speak of grief, the family bond, and secrets. And they relive their mutual experience in an effort to find the key to it all – where they are, what they’re doing there, who David is, and what has happened to Amanda.

 

Janelle says…

 

I heard a couple of early reviews of this book, which seemed to be unable to go into specifics about the plot but emphasised just how strange the book was. I had to check it out for myself.

Strange doesn’t quite do it justice. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. At 183 pages long, I read it in one sitting, and if you’re going to read it too I suggest you do the same. It’s at its most powerful that way. Don’t look up from the page or you’ll break the spell.

Just like other reviewers before me, I don’t feel like I can talk about specifics either, and I still don’t quite know what it was about or exactly what happened. The only way I can describe it is by saying that our two main characters are searching for answers about the things that have happened to them, but their conversation doesn’t really make any sense. Certain details do seem to connect to each other and this connection becomes apparent as you go along, however their meaning is unclear.

But I enjoyed the experience. And that’s exactly what this book feels like, it’s not just a book, not just a story….it’s an experience. By the end I felt like I’d been on some kind of time-travelling acid trip, following the stream of consciousness recollections of the protagonist, Amanda, whose discussion with creepy David almost seemed like as if she were under hypnosis. I don’t recall a book ever making me feel the way this one did. It was so weird, and unsettling, and confounding.

I know how I’m describing it probably makes it sound awful, but I loved it. I just couldn’t put it down, from the first page I wanted to know what was coming next and where it was leading. I don’t how Samanta Schweblin (and translator Megan McDowell) has done what she’s done here, I can’t help but feel like maybe she knows some great secret that we don’t.

If you’re not into totally bizarre books that make you think “WTF?”, then steer clear because you’ll probably end up throwing it at the wall. But if, like me, that’s your bag, then you need to pick this one up because it will rock your world.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Intricate – The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

The Summer that Melted Everything

by Tiffany McDaniel

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“The lukewarm past had been overtaken by the scalding now. Gone was the perfect temperature. The breeze. All replaced by an almost violent heat that turned your bones into volcanoes, your blood into the lava that yelled their eruptions. Folks would later talk about that sudden onset of heat. It was their best evidence of the devil’s arrival.

The Bliss family live in the small, humble town of Breathed, Ohio. In the summer of 1984, local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes in the town newspaper an invitation to the devil to come visit the town. Soon after, thirteen-year old Sal appears, alone and grubby on the courthouse steps, where he is met by Autopsy’s son, Fielding. The Bliss family take in Sal like he is one of their own, but there are others in town who are less than thrilled to hear that the devil has arrived. As a freak heatwave sends frustrations and patience simmering, a number of shocking incidents befall the residents of Breathed. But where will the blame be laid?

 

Janelle says…

This started out kind of comical, slowly building your rapport with the main protagonists, the Bliss family, so that you felt protective towards them as the story progressively got darker.

For me this book threw many questions out there – like what is good and what is evil, to what extent do they need each other and where does the line get blurry. And then we have the issue of labels, and group mentality. Young Sal, as the devil, is the scapegoat for every bad thing that befalls the town, the label applied to him enough to condemn him despite people not taking the time to get to know him. Is he really evil? Is it all really his fault? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Fear is a running theme. The fear of Stella Bliss, who refuses to leave her house because of a phobia of the rain. The fear of Grand Bliss, who has a secret in a time and place of hatred when he is likely to be misunderstood. The fear of Sal, who doesn’t want to own the label that is pinned to him and despite fearing the townfolk, tries to show love and compassion. The fear the town has of Sal, believing he has brought the heatwave and the spate of terrible events to them. Some of these characters will overcome their fears, some will succumb to them, some will not be able to live with them.

Overall, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this book and decide exactly what impression it’s left on me. But while reading it, there were a number of times I read over a sentence more than once because its composition was so clever. The writing was beautiful and intricate, many times I paused to admire how the author had put together the message, especially when in the mind of the main character Fielding and the dialogue of Sal. And a book that I still think about long after finishing it is always worthy of credit in my opinion.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Buddy read – Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

February 2017 – Janelle’s choice

Our Souls at Night

by Kent Haruf

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction / Literary

We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.”

And that’s how the story starts. One night in Holt County, Ohio, Addie Moore visits her neighbour Louis Waters, with this simple proposition. From there, an innocent and honest friendship blossoms, but some of the bystanders surrounding this couple aren’t too pleased.

 

Janelle says…

I chose this book because it was mentioned on an old episode of the ABC’s The Book Club and all the panellists doted over it, a rare occurence! And it sounded sweet. And it was sweet!

This is a quick, 180-page read but for such a little thing, it really does manage to cover a bit of ground. It explores growing old, how society sees people of a certain age bracket and expects them to behave, and whether we can claim any ownership over the actions of our loved ones, our elderly and frail loved ones especially. This exploration is made all the more poignant and beautiful by the fact that this novel was published posthumously, written by the author as he was dying. This post/review by The Guardian really does a good, honest job of paying homage to both the author and the book if you want to know more.

I fell in total love with the two protagonists, Addie and Louis. I was in their corner from the very first page, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would try to deny them the friendship they were creating with one another. But over and over again their meetings are judged as shameful by those around them, and I just wanted to jump inside the book and shake everybody by the shoulders!

I really found the dialogue to be written in an interesting way. There was no “she whispered”, “he moaned”, “I gasped” etc., it was purely just the actual words spoken between characters. It was just a different style of approaching dialogue, and I noticed that difference straight away. I liked it, it kept the story flowing in a very realistic way, without the need for drama.

I think more than anything, this is a book about hope, and the message that it’s never too late to chase happiness. And I think it’s one I’ll come back to again, when I feel the need to hear that message.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Mel says…

This book was 180-pages of pure sweetness. I fell in love with Addie, Louis and their companionship. Their little adventures were adorable and all I wanted to do was pack my bags and join them on their picnics, lunches and camping trips. At one point I sighed and asked my husband if we can please go camping, it sounded so pleasant.

The picture that Kent Haruf paints of this world is written in such an unusual way, that at first I struggled with the dialogue, but once I was roughly 20-pages in, it became quite easy to read and was a definite page turner.

Over the course of the book, I grew very attached to Addie and Louis and became very defensive about their companionship. So much so in fact, that when the towns folk began questioning the relationship in the beginning, all I wanted to do was tell them to mind their own business.

If you are looking for a short and relaxing read, then this is the book for you. It is light and a breath of fresh air. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Chilling – The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry

by Jane Harper

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Crime Fiction

“The body in the clearing was the freshest. It took the flies slightly longer to discover the two in the farmhouse, despite the front door swinging open like an invitation. Those that ventured beyond the initial offering in the hallway were rewarded with another, this time in the bedroom. This one was smaller, but less engulfed by competition.

First on the scene, the flies swarmed contentedly in the heat as the blood pooled black over tiles and carpet. Outside, washing hung still on the rotary line, bone dry and stiff from the sun. A child’s scooter lay abandoned on the stepping stone path. Just one human heart beat within a kilometre radius of the farm.
So nothing reacted when deep inside the house, the baby started crying. “

Australia is in the grip of its worst drought in a century, and it hasn’t rained in the small country town of Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past bubble to the surface as he investigates the truth of his friend’s crime.

Mel says…

This is the debut novel for Jane Harper and what a debut it is! Jane Harper has arrived on the scene people and I for one, will be divulging all of her material, if the standard remains this good!

Just reading the synopsis had me intrigued and eager to get my hands on a copy and rather than patiently waiting, (or not so patiently as it would seem), for the 20-odd eager readers in line for library copies to divulge ahead of me, I bought my own copy and swiftly began to explore this twisted world that Harper so cleverly lays out.

The small Aussie town is one that any Australian could have passed through, at some point in their lives. A handful of shops scattered up the “main street” and mass farm land laid out, as far as the eye can see. The landscape is so relatable and easy to picture, so as the story moves through the small town of Kiewarra, it is easy to imagine exactly what it looks like.

It took me 4 days to complete this book and I would have read it quicker, but you know, life…!  Right from the prologue, I had shivers down my spine. The detail that Harper uses to describe such a horrific scene sends chills down my spine. More than once, I had to put the book down and take a breather. There is so much intensity and emotion that was brought out in various chapters, I found that I was wincing and at one point, gasping. It was a true roller coaster of a novel.

From page 1 through to 339, I was hooked. The characters were relatable and people you would typically meet in any rural town and I think that is why it was so brilliant and shocking. If you enjoy books with more than one twist and smack in the face, raw writing that brings you crashing down to Earth with emotion, then I can’t recommend The Dry highly enough. I am calling this one very early, but I am going out on a limb and stating that The Dry is my 2017 Book of the Year!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Buddy read – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

January 2017 – Mel’s choice

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

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Published 2013

Genres: Fiction / Historical / Literary

As the story begins, Ursula Todd is born with the cord wrapped around her neck and does not survive. The next chapter, the same incident occurs, but this time, the doctor is present and is able to remove the cord from Ursula’s neck, so she lives through this ordeal, only to die in a differing way a few years later. As the plot progresses, so does Ursula’s life through the differing scenarios that play out and as she surpasses these various events from her previous lives, she begins to suffer from deja vu. 

“All those names,” Teddy said, gazing at the Cenotaph. “All those lives. And now again. I think there is something wrong with the human race. It undermines everything one would like to believe in, don’t you think?”

“No point in thinking,” she said briskly, “you just have to get on with life.” (She really was turning into Miss Woolf.) “We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try.” (The transformation was complete.)

“What if we had a chance to do it again and again,”Teddy said, “until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” 

Mel says…

I was super enthusiastic to read this book, as the premise of the story is doing life over when you don’t get it right the first time. What put me off reading this book for so long after I purchased it, was the 600+ pages, but in the end, I was intrigued enough to make this my first read of 2017.

I must admit, the plot sounds slightly confusing and it was at times. I found after roughly 200 pages, I was constantly wondering who certain characters were, as well as getting irritated with the use of various languages for a sentence here and there, with minimal translation applied. These were minor irks, but ones I carried until the very last page.

The positives were the way in which Kate Atkinson writes. It is so descriptive and she builds the characters personalities in such a way, that I felt I had built rapport’s with the main characters, by the end of the first hundred pages. The uniqueness of this book was a standout and one that I enjoyed exploring.

Specifically, I was intrigued to read about Atkinson’s interpretation of the raw brutality that was World War II and I actually felt like she got her descriptive details so perfect, that I could just imagine the colourless and depressive nature that was London during this significant part of history. The “version” I guess we will call it, of Ursula’s life as a warden during World War II, was my personal favourite. I found it so confronting and interesting at the same time, but it also felt so appropriate to the time period that she was living in.

Overall, I felt this book didn’t require 600+ pages to complete the story. I began waning with my enthusiasm by page 400, but pushed on with minimal reward. There are several unanswered questions, which is always irritating, but I enjoyed it enough to grant it 3.5 stars.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

I was similarly intrigued by the premise of this story, but the size of this book meant I was put off again and again from starting it. The new year does feel like a great time to sink in to a massive tome, though! And I’m glad I did.

The story explores how a life can be irrevocably changed through one small movement or decision, which unbeknownst to you, could end up defining your future. Something which is terrifying, yet accurate and fascinating.

I, like Mel, also thought that the book was longer than it needed to be. There were some chapters in the middle of the book that were soooooo long that I started to struggle with them. But it was the uniqueness of this book, my curiosity over where it would go next, and my love for the well-developed characters that kept me going.

This is not a book about only one character, we become deeply familiar with all the members of the Todd family and others around them. Because deja vu is a theme that runs throughout this book, there are links between chapters – sometimes the links are strong and obvious, sometimes so small they’re almost overlooked. I loved this clever trick, it felt like going on a treasure hunt.

I did lag with this book at times but nonetheless I was still keen to sink in to this world again and again to revisit the characters I had grown to love. I was expecting to get a different resolution out of it, but found that at the end I wasn’t completely satisfied that it had been tied up neatly enough. However, ultimately it was the unique format Kate Atkinson employed to pull off this premise that was enough to warrant a four star rating.

 

 Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Take a reading challenge in 2017!

I can’t resist a good challenge, and a reading challenge is the best kind! Not only does it make you accountable to yourself to try and pick up your reading game, it can broaden your reading horizons in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Here are a few ideas for reading challenges you could take up in 2017 if you were looking to add more bookish fun into your reading life!

 

shelf_love_2017_250x250

 

  • Chapter Break is hosting the 2017 Shelf Love Challenge, I participated in this last year as I found I had been ignoring the books on my own shelves in favour of library books. The goal is to read the books that you own first and foremost, ideal if you, like me, own lots of books that you haven’t yet read. I found it took me a good six months to get the hang of not requesting everything under the sun from the library, but once I started sticking to my library ban it was quite easy to look to my own shelves first, it was a matter of just doing it. I’m going to ramp up my commitment this year to read 21-30 books from my own shelves, which according to the Chapter Break challenge rules is the “give your shelves a warm friendly hug” level!

 

  • The 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge is a handy, fun little list for expanding your repertoire, and very doable. There are 40 prompts for you to attempt, most of which are quite easy, and an additional 12 prompts for those looking for a bit more. You can download a printable version of the challenge if you like to manually tick things off as you go, and there’s even a Goodreads group and an Instagram hashtag to keep you enthused all year.

 

  • The “Challenge Factory” GoodReads discussion thread has LOADS of suggestions from users, ranging from the easy to the advanced, from mini and weekly challenges to year-long ones. Lots of fun, you’re bound to find something that you like. The TCF Hangman 2017 thread looks like a fun game, and I’m definitely going to try the Give Me 5 thread for those times when I can’t pick what I want to read next.

 

  • I’m also going to try to Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this year – this one has a focus on diversity and will really push you to seek books that our outside of your norm. Book Riot offer plenty of backup throughout the year for completing this challenge, including an active Goodreads group, regular videos on the Book Riot booktube channel, and Read Harder book group meetups if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities that hosts them in the US, Canada or Scotland.

 

So, do any of these challenges take your fancy? What are your reading goals for 2017?

 

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2016 wrap-up – our top books and reading goals

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap on 2016! Despite all the crapness of this year, reading was one thing that went reasonably well for us. For one thing, both of us met our Goodreads Reading Challenge targets…..

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And really, what could be a better indicator of a successful year, I ask you?

Here’s a rundown of our year in reading:

 

Janelle says…

My top 5 books of the year

Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

This was everything I want from a fantasy novel, and there is more to come from this series, which leaves me giddy with gleeful anticipation.

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

Not your average zombie novel, this had a mix of genre tones, touching on science fiction, thriller, and literary. Very satisfying.

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Speaking of satisfying, this was the bookish equivalent of slipping on your comfiest trackpants, and sinking into your couch with a tub of ice cream, a spoon, and Netflix. Devilish drama.

Fear Is The Rider – Kenneth Cook

Whenever I think back to this book, my pulse quickens a notch. Clear your schedule for a few hours before cracking this one open, you won’t to get off this ride until the end.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

I think this will forever be a book I go back to again and again in different phases of my life, and one I recommend and gift to others repeatedly. It should be on everyone’s shelves, liquid gold for the soul.

 

My reading goals

I originally set my Goodreads reading challenge goal at 36 books for the year, but I crept up close to it in the second half of the year so I extended it out to 40 books. And I still managed to beat that too! This is the most I’ve ever read in one year ever, so I’m super happy! Although my final number should be 47, not 46. I read Tiny Beautiful Things again in 2016, but Goodreads only lets you assign one completion date to each book, so it’s stuck on the original date I first finished it in 2015.

2016-reading-challenge-snip

I was also taking part in the Shelf Love Challenge this year, which was basically a pledge to read your own books, in an effort to get through more of the many unread books sitting on my own shelves. My goal was to have read between 11-20 of my own books this year. I was pretty rubbish at this challenge in the first half of the year, being unable to resist the temptation of library books. But I picked up my game in the second half, with a final total of 15 books read from my own shelves. I’m not counting ARCs (advanced reader copies) or audiobooks in this final tally, because both of those types of books are ones that expire after a certain period of time. And my focus for this challenge was the physical books on my shelves. So I achieved this goal, but definitely room for improvement next year!

 

Mel says…

My top 5 books of the year

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series – Ransom Riggs 

This book series was my favourite YA of the year and the entire series makes my top 5, as each book was brilliant and unique. I couldn’t devour all 3 books fast enough, so now I just need to prepare myself for the movies. They better not ruin the bookish magic….

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

I was a little late to the party on this one, but it didn’t disappoint. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and devoured multiple packets of Tim Tams while I greased up the pages of my book, with swift page turning goodness.

Wildflower – Drew Barrymore 

This book was my second favourite read of the year. What’s not to love about Drew, really?! After reading Wildflower, all I wanted to do was make daisy chains and sit in the sun. She is just such a beautiful and pure person. Love her even more, now!

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

I couldn’t decide between TMG or Moriarty’s other standout, Big Little Lies. But seeings as Janelle included BLL in her top 5, I’ll go with TMG. Another great guilty pleasure, full of suspense, drama and a few LOL’s. This is a great read for any fan of Moriarty, who enjoys her style of writing.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

By far my number one read of 2016. This book has CHANGED MY LIFE! I gifted copies of TBT to some close girlfriends, because I loved it so so much. This book is perfect for anyone who has ever said ‘WTF?’ about ANYTHING, so basically, this book is for everyone.

 

My reading goals

I initially set my Goodreads reading challenge at 15 books, as I was due to have my first baby in March and assumed that I would struggle to read much at all. But somehow I found a way and soon bypassed my initial goal somewhere in the middle of the year, so reset my goal to 23, which I achieved with 2 weeks of the year still remaining. Like Janelle, this is the most books I have ever read in a single year, so next year I hope to push myself even more and continue to explore differing genres.

 

How was your reading in 2016? Did you have any goals that you accomplished? What were your favourite reads of the year?

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