Challenges

Challenge: TBR Pile 2013 Challenge Progress

 
I am currently taking part in the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, and as of yet have not written any progress posts, so I’m taking the chance to make one now! My goal was  to read 15 books over the year, from a list of 30. You can view my original post here, which includes the list.
 

So how have I done so far?

 

  1.  An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – my first John Green book (The Fault in Our Stars is waiting for me…) and such a sweet read.
  2. Tristan and Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff – I just finished this one. A bit disappointing really. This was meant to be the ‘romantic’ version, rather than Tristan and Iseult falling in love because of a love potion, but it really didn’t feel it.
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Beautiful and so, so moving.
  4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Fantastic dystopian YA story, and I also recently read the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials.
  5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – This one caught me by surprise, it was original and interesting, and rather different from what I was expecting!
  6. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Definitely accurate in the ‘Harry Potter for adults’ description, with some C.S. Lewis thrown in for good measure.
  7. The Sun in my Eyes: Two-wheeling East by Josie Dew – I love Josie’s travel writing, she’s so witty and has some amazing experiences.
  8. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – This book was so sweet, especially compared with many of today’s characters.

 
Eight out of fifteen, and only (basically) four months into the year – I think I will achieve my target, perhaps I could even read all thirty!
 

And now, my readers, how are you doing with the challenge if you’re taking part? What have you read this year so far that you loved?

 
Review

Review: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I reviewed the first book in this series, The Maze Runner, back in January. I spotted this one in my local library – I wasn’t planning to borrow anything, but I knew I had to pick this one up after enjoying the first so much. So I’m a sucker for YA dystopia.
Picking up right where The Maze Runner left off, The Scorch Trials is a whirlwind experience, once again letting the reader know only what the protagonist does, and moving on so quickly that sometimes it is a little hard to really take things in. The Gladers are safe – or so they think – and there is a real sense of relief. But this doesn’t last long, and soon things are just as crazy as they were in the Maze – however, this time they seem a whole lot worse, without the shelter of the Farm, and the familiar schedule of their daily life there. No walls surrounding them, no gates closing precisely at sundown and keeping the bad things out – just miles and miles of empty, ruined space.

With much more of a post-apocalyptic setting than the previous book, and really a lot darker, this has a sort of Fallout/Borderlands-esque feel to it. There were actually a couple of moments that made me feel a little sick – Dashner cuts off his descriptions of certain events before they get really bad, but when your imagination runs away with you it is hard not to imagine! Also, to me, there is nothing more terrifying than groups of people becoming feral and turning on one another. Sure, the Grievers from the first book were horrible. But people are intelligent (well… mostly), they have emotions, souls. To go from being human, to something truly animalistic, is a scary thought.

I would have preferred a little more of some of the other characters – Minho, Newt etc – but the focus was very much on Thomas and Teresa. There was also a rather shocking moment that, once everything is explained to him, Thomas seems to just accept far too easily. At times the pace of the story was too quick – as with the ending of The Maze Runner – and although quite a lot happened, it didn’t always feel like it.

However, the ending was exciting and I had such a vivid image of the carnage in my head – and it definitely set up for the next book. But it was the same sort of cliffhanger as the first book – the frustrating kind that reveals almost nothing, compared to the kind that gives you just enough information.

Review

Review: The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I started reading this book on an hour long (either way) bus journey that I take once a week, and normally hate. But this time, I wanted the journey to last much longer, so I could carry on reading. I was instantly drawn into the world that Dashner has created – where we know only what Thomas, the main character, knows. As the book progresses, both the reader and Thomas learn more about the world, or perhaps it would be best just to say the Maze. Personally, I found the whole set up pretty cool – each boy works in a different area of the Glade in order to keep the whole thing running smoothly; they have been resourceful where they could have easily just turned into a giant mess.

There is one rather important event that happens about a third into the book, which I managed to guess – seemed rather predictable. The monsters in the Maze, known as Grievers, sound horrific on paper, but when I try to imagine them I seem to get an image of Ros from Monsters Inc. in my head.

>Scary, yes, but for the entirely wrong reasons.

I also believe that a lack of female characters may put some readers off, although this didn’t seem to harm Lord of the Flies, which this book reminds me of in places. Or The Lord of the Rings for that matter… (female characters were extended for the films). Personally, I don’t mind which gender the protagonist is, it completely depends how they act. And Thomas is a very determined young man, who completely acts by gut instinct – and is normally right. The other boys are a motley collection of personalities and appearances, and work nicely together.

As for the writing, it flows very well with chapters frequently ending on cliffhangers or just before revealing crucial points, making it very difficult to say ‘Just one more chapter before I go to bed’, and stick to it… Dashner’s use of slang created for the book works nicely, allowing him to accurately portray these teenagers as teenagers (many YA authors seem to think teenagers never swear?) without being crude or profane.

I almost dropped the book down a star for the ending. It felt rushed and a bit lacklustre, and almost sort of… generic. Like a very repeated formula. But it left me desperately wanting more, and the excitement of the rest of the book definitely made up for it.

Past Features

Weekly Roundup #15

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My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.
 
 

Bought

  • The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett – I’ve spoken about this book a lot – you can read my review here. Waterstones were doing a special edition paperback for £2.99, so now I finally have my own copy!
  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King – this one from the charity shop, practically brand new and only £1. It’s all about time travel and trying to prevent the assassination of JFK – which occurred on the eponymous date.


Library

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman – described as ‘Harry Potter for grown ups’. Yes. Yes, and yes!
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I have actually never really read the blurb for this one… I just kept seeing it everywhere and it has a pretty cool cover. That is quite honestly the only reason I ordered it.
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I added this to my TBR list when looking through the Dystopian genre on Goodreads. It claims that if you loved The Hunger Games, you’ll love this – but I think they say that for every YA Dystopian novel these days. We shall see!
  • Ready Player One by Robert Cline – this one sounds so cool – like a mix of Tron and Blade Runner!

What have you received to read this week?

Challenges

Challenge: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


I am continuing this challenge throughout 2014, as I hope to have read all 30 books by the end of the year.

I have decided to join the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, which runs from 1st January – 31st December 2013. You can read the rules and join the challenge here. There is also a handy Goodreads group for the challenge, which will track your challenge books for you, as long as you shelf them correctly.

I have almost 300 books on my TBR list, and some have been sitting there for years. One of the rules of this challenge is no books published after 2013, and no ARCs – which rules out a lot of my review books. This means I can read the books I want to, and have been meaning to read for some time – which means they’ll most likely be ones that I already own. I have set a goal of 15 books (considering that I also have to read review copies), any from this list:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (read 2014)
3. Endymion by Dan Simmons
4. The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (read 2014)
5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
6. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
8. Redhead by Ian Cook
9. Tristan and Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff
10. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez
11. The Ice Storm by Rick Moody
12. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
14. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
15. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
16. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
17. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
18. The Sun in my Eyes: Two-Wheeling East by Josie Dew
19. The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsyth
20. A Walk in the Wood: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trial by Bill Bryson
21. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
22. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
23. Gone by Michael Grant
24. Virals by Kathy Reichs
25. Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
26. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (read 2014)
27. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (read 2014)
28. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
29. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
30. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Keep track of my progress or take a look at my tbr-pile-challenge shelf!

 Just under half of my list…