To All The Books I’ve Read Before (…July 2019)

Hi!

SO, I said I wanted to do more book blogging so here’s another booky post for y’all.

I joined goodreads at the end of last year, after a little (read: a lot) pressure from my also-book-obsessed flatmate and decided to participate in their ‘Reading Challenge’ this year. The idea is that you set yourself a goal in January of how many books you want to read in the coming year (the number can be changed later on and can be as low or high as you wish) and then everytime you finish a book, you log it on goodreads and it counts towards your goal. My flatmate had read 75 books in 2018 so has challenged herself to 100 for 2019. She reckons that I read far more than her, but I felt a bit dubious about 100 as it seemed SUCH a high number, so I set a challenge of 80 books for the year.

As of 1st July 2019, so half way through the year exactly, I had read 38 books, so was actually pleasantly close to halfway towards my goal. I must admit that I have also included around 5 or so short stories – which I have demarcated in the list below -as well as a few graphic novels and I’ve also unashamedly added my audiobooks into the list as well, because they absolutely count as reading.

However, I thought I would do a quick round-up blog post of everything I’ve read so far this year along with a super short review.

  1. Home Sweet Murder by James Patterson – (4 stars)

Usually known for his crime writing, Patterson usually bashes out around 12-15 books a year with the help of various (credited) ghost writers. I’m not really a fan of crime fiction, but TRUE crime, yes please. Home Sweet Murder is 2 american true-crime stories, and Patterson is excpetionally good at writing that makes you desperate to keep turning the page. I’ve got another of his true crime collections to read towards the end of the year as well.

2. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend – audiobook/re-read (5 stars)
This was my first audiobook of the year, and it was a ‘re-read’ of one of my favourite childhood series. Also, the narrator of the first 2 or 3 Adrian Mole books on Audible captures the character PERFECTLY.

3. The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay
Hilary McKay is doing an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival (which I’m working again this year) and I honestly can’t *wait* to meet her and get my book signed. I cried 3 times in the last 40 pages of this book, twice from sadness and once from bittersweet happiness. Hilary McKay makes you fall in love with all the characters and then breaks your heart by breaking theirs as the casualties of the war begin to tear cracks into everyone’s lives.

4. Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson (4 stars)
I watched Hilda, loved Hilda, promptly bought all of the Hilda comics. If you love the TV series, please please treat yourself to the comics, as they’re the same art style/colour schemes to the show and the detail in the pages is simply gorgeous.

5. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson (5 stars)

6. Hilda and the Black Hound (5 stars)

7. Who Runs the World? By Virginia Bergin (1 star)
Ah, my first disappointing read of 2019, I remember it well. Which is a shame, as I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out around 2 years ago.

8. You by Caroline Kepnes (3 stars)
Bought this after binge-watching the show on my week off. It was OK, a little slow in parts. Also it’s impossible not to read it in Penn Badgley’s voice if you’ve seen the show first.

9. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – audiobook (2 stars)
SO the sequel to YOU was on my ‘want to read’ shelf for a while, and then I discovered that Santino Fontan (aka Greg from Crazy Ex Girlfriend, aka my one true love) narrated it and I simply HAD to buy it. However, would have been a 1 star review if it weren’t for Greg’s..*sorry* Santino’s gravelly sarcastic tones. Even slower than You, and even less believable plot.

10. The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth – audiobook (4 stars)
A fun look at where some words came from and how language and culture influence each other. I want to read his other books at some point in the future.

11. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (3 stars)
Okay, so this isn’t spooky. At all. BUT it is a damn good gothic novel. Hill’s writing is atmospheric and rich, like a melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding on a winter’s night.

12. True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole by Sue Townsend – audiobook/ re-read (3 stars)

13. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I asked for book recommendations from my colleagues (I work in a bookstore) and 4 of them recommended Flowers For Algernon. . I can’t believe I haven’t read it sooner, if I’m being honest! So so so good.

14. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (5 stars)
I cannot for the life of me remember why I picked up this book, having never read a nature book before in my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and octopuses are now one of my new favourite animals. I learnt SO many facts about octopuses and sea-life from this book, which I then bored all my colleagues and friends to death with incessantly, to the extent that I would be asked ‘what did you learn about octopuses today, Poppy?’ whenever I walked into the staff room. Highly recommended.

15. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (1 star)
Awful. This book actually gave me a headache every single time I picked it up. Why does she hate herself so much? Why does she think she’s fat? This book made me sad.

16. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney – audiobook (3 stars)
Not as good as Normal People, but still a very real portrayal of adolescence and navigating female friendship and complicated relationships.

17. Everywoman by Jess Phillips (5 stars)
Ok so I might be biased because I effing LOVE Jess Phillips BUT this book is also bloody brilliant. It’s marketed as a feminist text, but it’s more just Jess giving you her wisdom on how to deal with the difficult parts of life, and sharing her anecdotes with you in a way that feels like she’s chatting with you down the pub.

18. The Inner Room by Robert Aickmann – Faber 90 short story (3 stars)

19. Nought Forever by Malorie Blackman – World Book Day short story (3 stars)

20. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (5 stars)

21. Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian – short story (4 stars)

22. The Walking Dead volume 1 by Robert Kirkman

23. The Walking Dead volume 2 by Robert Kirkman

24. The Walking Dead volume 3 by Robert Kirkman

25. The Walking Dead volume 5 by Robert Kirkman

26. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite (3 stars)
This was slow to get into, but picked up halfway through. Essentially, it’s a fictional tale of 2 serial killers in America during the AIDS epidemic, who both set their sights on the same victim. It is in turns both beautiful and grotesque.

27. The Familiars by Stacey Halls – audiobook (5 stars)
The only audiobook that I’ve loved so much that I also bought a hard copy of the book in hardback. Set during the Pendle witch trials in the UK, this is a gorgeous historical novel about female friendship, folklore and power.

28. West by Carys Davies (4 stars)
I read this in one sitting and it took my breath away. My manager lent it to me and me and him NEVER have the same taste in books, so I think this would have broad appeal to anyone. An epic in miniature.

29. Circe by Madeline Miller (5 stars)
This is my current favourite book of 2019 and I don’t think anything will knock it off the top spot in the latter half of 2019. Oh my God this was SO GOOD. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed any of the Greek myths as a kid, you’ll love this book. Also, don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a retelling of the Odyssey, as it’s super modern and badass and powerful. I want to BE Circe. This book made me feel all the feelings it is possible to feel and I didn’t want it to end.

30. The Song of Achilles (4 stars)
Not as good as Circe, but it still had me sobbing at the end. Greek mythology, gods and gays – what’s not to love?

31. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas – audiobook (1 star)
I should start this review with a disclaimer that I don’t generally get on with audiobooks that have an American accented narrator. However, this book was bad. So bad. And somehow so much worse than her ACOTAR series??? Celeana thinks she knows everything, that everyone wants her and that she is amazing. Also both the male main characters in this book fall in love with her, and it feels super childish and weird and unnecessary?! Idk man, all I know is I’m not reading anymore of this series.

32. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (3 stars)
Not Atwood’s best, by a long shot. Trying to bring the Odyssey into the modern world but not actually modernising it felt a bit odd, that a woman from the time of Greek mythology was now visiting earth via the wifi?! I don’t think I would have fully understood the first half of this if I hadn’t just finished Circe. I think this was maybe just a bit too intellectual for me.

33. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (5 stars)
I didn’t really care about Ted Bundy until I read this book, and then promptly became obsessed. Ann Rule met Ted when they both worked at a Samaritans-style helpline, and it took her a very long time to be convinced of his guilt when the truth came out. What’s incredible is that her writing reflects this, so you also get to ride the rollercoaster of emotions Ann Rule felt as she delved more into the murders that were being attributed to her former friend.

34. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (5 stars)
Slow starter, but definitely one of my favourite books of 2019. It follows a young American student, who may have Multiple Personality Disorder but may also be possessed by ogbanje – old African ‘evil’ spirits who didn’t pass back through to the spirit world when Ada was born. Trippy and lavish and weird and breath-taking. Everyone should read this book.

35. The Heartland by Nathan Filer (3 stars)
Read more like a uni essay than a book with all the pointless footnoting to the source material, however, the case studies were incredibly interesting and it really helped me learn so much more about psychosis and how misunderstood this condition still is – and perhaps, most shockingly, that a diagnosis of psychosis can actually harm the patient more than simply not knowing.

36. An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim (3 stars)
Think The Handmaid’s Tale meets steampunk. The 80s discover time travel after a virus nearly wipes out the whole population, but the future is even more bleak. Also, a doomed love story. Good, but left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and a slight ache in my bones.

37. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4 stars)
Intense. A strong slow burner that will make you feel like you’ve lived the lives of these people in the days it takes you to consume this book. The most interesting part of An American Marriage is just how real the characters are. All of them are heavily flawed, and all make decisions that make them unlikeable at times but you still want everything to work out for them in the end, because the pain is so unbearable at times.

38. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson – audiobook (2 stars)
A modern retelling of an old myth, but I think I was too thick to get it. Might try re-reading an actual hard copy at some point in the future.

And, I think that’s it, phew! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these, or if you have any recommendations for me.

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