Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bookworm | The Colossal 2015 Goodreads Challenge

I've been a blogging disappointment. I've promised more frequent posts, and then I moved. And then...two months passed. Let's just swallow that and move on, shall we? New April, new me!

But before that, a post that I promise ages ago. Here's what I did in 2015.

After only getting to 26 out of my 50 books in 2014's Goodreads challenge, I was absolutely determined to meet my goal this year. Besides the fact that I felt like a total failure as a bookworm, I can't really justify my drive, but this past year, it was there. So let's talk about what I read in one huge, whirlwind of a book review.

One thing: I apologize for the sassiness that creeps in halfway through but this post has become such a chore that I couldn't help it.

You're about to see every. single. book. that I've read this year. 

We FREAKING made it, people!!!!

1.)A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin
Finished 01.08.15
One of the easier ones to push through. Can't tell you what happens because between the book series and the show, I can't keep anything straight. I think this is the exciting one, though.

SBBG (Stars, Books, & Bowties Grade): B

2.)Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (class)

Finished 01.12.15
Okay, bit of a cheat...I read this in high school, but I did 100% honestly read it again, so it counts! I love this book. One of my favorite classics. It's about colonialism and the negative effects of it within the African Congo. The horror!


3.) To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf (class)

Finished 01.29.15
Ole Virginia is always a bit of a challenge to get through, but her famous stream-of-consciousness is less of a pain in this one. Beautiful writing, yet bleak theme, as per usual. The story revolves around a dinner party, what more could you ask for?


4.) The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway (class)

Finished 02.08.2015
Hemingway is great. Spain is great. France is great. Superficially, I enjoyed this book mainly for the location. On a more profound note, I love the characters and the theme and the subtext and gah. Bull fighting, copies drinking, and sex in Europe, oh my.


5.)Light in August, by William Faulkner (class)

Finished 02.26.2015
Bit of a slog to get through, not going to lie. If I were to recommend a Faulkner novel, I would start you out with The Sound and the Fury. Still a great read though, filled with very important messages about prejudice and race in Southern towns. 


6.)Handbook for William: A Carolingian Woman's Counsel for Her Son, by Dhuoda (class)

Finished 02.27.2015
Had to read this for my history class, and if you're at all into medieval history, I would totally suggest this. It's a woman writing a sort of guidebook for her son for when he grows up, and it provides great insight into how a medieval woman's mind worked.


7.) The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (class)

Finished 03.05.2015
I loved this book. If you're into Arthurian folklore, then you'll love it too. It's written in the female perspective, involving Morgana, Guinevere, and more. It's a bit of a commitment, but I absolutely love it. 


8.)The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaimain

Finished 03.07.2015
I have to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this book. I started off really excited, because Gaiman's writing style is much akin to Rowling; a bit whimsical, a lot British, with a touch of magic. However, the ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked. Still mulling this one over in my head, though.


9.)Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (class)

Finished 03.15.2015
If you want to start getting into some of the acclaimed classics, I would suggest starting with this. Hilarious and bleak, this book is incredibly eye-opening to the horrors and aftermath of war. I also find Trafalmadorian references everywhere, now that I understand what that means.


10.)Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (class)

Finished 03.22.2015
Another great introduction to classics, more specifically magical realism. Marquez is the king of this genre, and this book fits right in. It takes place in a Latin American town, and literally is a whole book on the murder of one man, and it proposes the idea of an entire town being the culprit (at least, that was my paper argument...heh). 


11.) The Song of Roland, by Anonymous (class)

Finished 04.02.2015
One of the more devastating events in medieval history, this epic poem portrays the massacre of Roland and his men as they get trapped within the Pyrenees mountains. Roland was an esteemed soldier in Charlemagne's army, and the story is incredibly sad, but also an immense classic.


12.) Beloved, by Toni Morrison (class)

Finished 04.08.2015
Hmm. This book is a great introduction into American slavery texts, but man, it's painful. I've read Morrison before, and I have to be brutally honest when I say I don't really enjoy her writing. It's bizarre, to put it mildly. However, if you want to learn more about the suffering that African Americans went through at the time, I recommend it.


13.) The Treasure of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan (class)

Finished 04.08.2015
To be honest, I don't really remember this book. I'm pretty sure it was offensive to modern day women (basically Christine saying that  women should be submissive and quiet and all that) and while it helped gain perspective on the thought process of medieval women, it was rough to get through.


14.) Tracks, by Louise Erdrich (class)

Finished 04.27.2015
This book touches on the modern-day struggles of Native Americans and their loss of property, traditions, and livelihood. Brutally honest, and slightly confusing.


15.) Joyous Health, by Joy McCarthy

Finished 05.21.2015
Yay this is when I graduated!! Joy is one of the best-educated nutritionists out there, and her recipes are amazing. This book provides great information on what you should eat and why. I recommend 100%.


16.) City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte

Finished 05.23.2015
This book was a mess, man. It follows a music student on a trip to Prague, where she's pulled into issues that are centuries old. There's no real likable character in this book, which considering how weird the rest of it was, made it really hard to tolerate.


17.) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

Finished 06.02.2015 
OH MY GOD. MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR. Here it is. Beautiful writing, wonderful characters, superb setting and story. I can't say more. Just go read it now.

SBBG: A++++++

18.) The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Finished 06.07.2015 This book served as a great summer read: relatively suspenseful plot, interesting characters, a twist at the end. A coworker thought it best for middle-aged women, but I didn't mind. I suspect that Moriarty's other books are quite similar, however.


19.) Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

Finished 06.12.2015 
To be honest, I was very disappointed with this book. I picked it up expecting a great travel book about the Mediterranean coast, but instead it followed a bunch of uninteresting characters related to old-time Hollywood (I'm talking a lot of Liz Taylor references) and just felt very jumbled. I don't really remember a lot of it, probably because I was so disenchanted.


20.) The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Finished 06.18.2015 
Much like Moriarty's book, I understand why this has been at the top of the bestseller list for almost a year now. Set in London (automatic plus for me), it follows a girl who commutes to and from the city via train. Every day, she watches out for a specific house to pass by, and throughout the book you discover why. A great, compelling read.


21.) A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin

Finished 07.04.2015 
Ahh yes, the fourth in the series. As per usual, I had to push through it(trust me, I'm currently struggling through the fifth one), but as I said with the third one earlier in the year, I couldn't tell you what happens in it. It all runs together.


22.) Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham

Finished 07.08.2015 
I was very curious to see what our favorite Lauren Graham (Lorelai Gilmore, if you live under a rock) had as far as writing chops go. I was very pleasantly surprised! This book is a cute chick-flick-esque setting with an important message about perseverance beneath it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


23.) Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon

Finished 07.26.2015
Book two of the Outlander saga. Just as beautiful as the original, I am completely in love with everything about it. It is one of those series where I wish I had discovered it sooner, but I do realize that you need to be within a certain age to comprehend it.


24.) Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon

Finished 08.13.2015 
Due to the cliffhanger that Dragonfly had, I absolutely couldn't start another book without seeing the resolution, no matter what plans I had. I was able to slow down my fervor in this one, however, and take a break afterward. That doesn't mean that this book is any less wonderful, however. Time travel, history, love, etc. What more is there?!


25.) Highland Laddie Gone by Sharyn McCrumb

After gushing about Outlander to coworkers, one lent me their copy of this book that they had to read for class. It was a gratuitous read, to be sure. I blew through it, and couldn't tell you what happened except there was a Scottish festival somewhere in America. I think someone died.


26.) Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

Finished 08.24.2015 
My review is HERE.


27.) Juliet, by Anne Fortier

Finished 08.30.2015 
Yet another book lent to me by a coworker, this story takes place in modern-day Italy, yet oscillates between that and the time of the "real" Romeo and Juliet. This book confused me greatly. There was a modern Romeo and Juliet, who were descendants of the originals, yet they weren't necessarily reincarnates, but they were enough to break a curse, but....

I don't know. I don't know what I wanted, but it didn't really satiate.


28.) The Widow's Season, by Laura Brodie

Finished 08.30.2015 
My boss claims this book to be her favorite ever, and I have to admit, I greatly enjoyed it (I'm not just saying that because she's my me, the beach reads you'll see later are all from her). A woman's husband dies in a boating accident, and yet appears to her a few weeks later. Is he alive after faking his own death, or is he a ghost unable to let go?


29.) A Vintage Affair, by Isabel Wolff

Finished 09.09.2015 
This one was cute, I'll give it that. It follows a girl who has created a vintage clothing shop....That's about it. I don't really remember the details.


30.) The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister

Finished 09.12.2015 
What a cute concept! This small story follows a bunch of people as they attend a cooking class. The only thing is, I wish they revisited a few of the characters. They all sort of appeared and disappeared in a whirlwind.


31.) Tulip Fever, by Deborah Moggach

Finished 09.24.2015 
Marginally disappointed with this one. Looking back on the year, I feel like this book tried to do what Girl with a Pearl Earring did successfully but couldn't. It's about an affair with an artist. I remember feeling unsatisfied with the ending. Since then it's left me.


32.) Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

So I finally decided to try the famous True Blood books. To be honest, it wasn't half bad. However, judging by the scathing Goodreads reviews of the books later on down the series (I couldn't help but sneak a peak), I don't think I'll be continuing on with the series.


33.) In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria

Finished 10.06.2015 
I had to read this book for work, and the only thing that I remember about it is that I didn't find it half bad. So, you know, you go, Zakaria.


34.) The Girls of Mischief Bay, by Susan Mallery

Finished 10.15.2015 
Yet another book outside of my age bracket. A bunch of middle-aged women go to a beach house to solve their problems, which seems to be a trend with the beach reads that I've read thus far. I'll revisit in 20 years.

SBBG: meh.

35.) The Martian, by Andy Weir

Finished 10.20.2015 
I loved this book! Look, I wrote a review about it here.


36.) Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

Finished 10.22.2015 
I am THOROUGHLY disappointed that I was not introduced to this book until I had been on this earth for twenty-two years. What the heck. It's brilliant. I loved it. Oh my word. I can't say anything else because you have to just go read it.


37.) The Glam Guide, by Fleur de Force

Finished 10.25.2015 
Yet another "style" book from a celebrity that really adds nothing new to the plate since you already have heard everything from them already. However, I am an avid watcher of Ms. de Force and I love her dearly so as much as I snub my nose at tweens who rush to the store to buy their favorite YouTubers/celebs' books....I am one of them. Just add ten years.


38.) Beauty, by Robin McKinely

Finished 10.28,2015
I read this book in three hours. It is adorable, and I would have gobbled it up and obsessed over it about twelve years ago. It has its plot holes and may not sit well with modern-day feminism (does any version of Beauty and the Beast??), but is a cute read nonetheless.


39.) The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen 

Finished 11.06.2015
Yet ANOTHER recommendation by coworker and this one got me all sorts of frustrated. The main heroine whined the whole time, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on, and overall I was just super bored. And when I'm talking about a medieval fantasy world-- aka my favorite setting for anything ever-- if I can't stay interested, then you know it's bad.


40.) Those Secrets We Keep, by Emily Liebert

Finished 11.08.2015 
Shit...I think this was the book about the middle-aged women going to a beach house to solve their problems. Wait.

SBBG: No idea. 

41.) Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Finished 11.10.2015
I read this for my work's book club! And I left a review about it here!

42.) The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

Finished 11.15.2015
Yep. This book did what Tulip Fever tried and failed to do. It's a classic. If you like books about painters, love affairs, and Dutch art, then you would probably like this.


43.) A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

Finished 11.16.2015
A book that has been sitting on my bookshelf since I was about six, but oddly enough I've never gotten past the first chapter or so. A delightful read, as I'm sure most of you know firsthand. Silly me.


44.) Double Fudge Brownie Murder, by Johanna Fluke

--Reluctantly--finished 11.20.2015 
A fucking awful book. (sorry Mom but I just gotta say how I feel!) I forced myself to finish it because I had no time to read something else.


45.) The Emperor of Paris, by CS Richardson

Finished 11.28.2015
A beautiful book on Paris during WWI. The writing is poetic and lyrical and beautiful. I highly recommend.


46.) How College Works, by Daniel Chambliss

Finished 12.02.2015
If you've been to college within the last ten years, this book adds no sort of intelligent insight. Sorry not sorry.


47.) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Finished 12.08.2015
I have to shamefully admit that this book had been on my "currently reading" list for about a year at this point. It wasn't that I wasn't enjoying the book, but I had seen the movie while it was on campus so I knew the ending and I also was reading on my Kindle which usually means it takes me longer to read. Do I even need to spit out a synopsis?


48.) Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

Finished 12.08.2015
This book sparked a fun debate among my coworkers, and I have to say I fall in the middle. If you're looking for a fun, interesting hiking book, then this book falls in that category...but you could do better. However, it was still enjoyable. 


49.) Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Finished 12.17.2015
What a bizarre book. I knew it from the Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley movie a few years back and I decided to give it a go. I won't spoil the plot point, but it is rather bleak. However, it's the English countryside, so I can't really complain.


50.) Nantucket, by Nan Rossiter

Finished 12.24.2015 
A cute, fluffy, sad book that gave me hope that beach reads could be mildly enjoyable. Good job, Rossiter.


51.) Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone Illustrated Version, by J.K. Rowling

Finished 12.27.2015 
A delight, as per usual. This isn't cheating, by the way.....I truly had never read the Illustrated version before. :)

SBBG: C'mon.

52.) Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

Finished 12.29.2015
Just in time!!! A fun, futuristic, Zeon-spaceship kind of book about a frozen girl waking up too soon and a guy who has never set foot on solid ground. Is that mysterious enough for you? Heh??  This book is a teen reader, so it allowed me to race to the finish line with two days to spare! Oh yeah!


Insert gif of me exiting the stage with my top hat. Bye now.

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