Over the past couple of years I have documented every film I have watched and reviewed them all.
As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading.
So this year I set myself a challenge of reading one book a month; a small challenge, maybe, but it was a start.
This year I set myself a challenge of 12 books (1 a month).
Here’s how my 2014 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books:
1. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
A beautiful romance with a heart-breaking twist. This is one of few books that have made me cry, and for that I could read it over and over again, and I would know it would do the same every time.
2. The Rosie Project by Don Tillman
I couldn’t help but think of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory whilst reading this; the quirky and awkward characters make this book unique and one worth reading, but I did think that the ending was a little rushed.
3. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Told in the first person by Hazel herself, the book’s narrative style allows the story to feel real, as if it were Hazel’s diary as she documents every moment and thought in her life as a cancer patient, knowing that one day soon will be her last. This also makes Hazel a strong female lead, as we know exactly what’s going through her mind. It’s a fantastic technique used to engage its readers, so it’s no wonder the book remained The New York Times’ No.1 Best Seller for seven weeks.
But not only is The Fault In Our Stars a compelling character-driven drama, it’s also a very decent romance; there’s no fantasy here, just pure love between two characters who want to give something their all whilst they still have the chance to fight for it. And that’s what you’ve got to love about this book; there’s true emotion, all of which you will feel along the way, a yearning for accomplishment, and above all, a passionate desire to simply live and love.
4. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
Labor Day is a brilliant coming of age story. It’s very moving at times and heart-warming throughout. The film adaptation doesn’t capture the relationships quite as well as the book does, so it’s certainly a book worth reading beforehand.
5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The best characteristics of a dystopia are always around the themes of standing up for yourself, fighting against wrong, and making a difference, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for Katniss to do. Now, she must become the iconic Mockingjay, a symbol of hope and courage in the revolution, to unify the districts of Panem, fight to save those she loves, and attempt to shatter the games forever.
It’s this focus on character that a majority of the book focuses on, seeing Katniss build up her strength and prepare for a revolution. This first half of the book works incredibly well to build up the atmosphere. Emotions of fear and desperation in a world nobody wants to live in are strong, and Katniss becomes the heroine she was born to be.
6. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Hobbit remains a classic even today. It is a story that many of us are likely to have read whilst growing up, or were at least forced to during education, with the book and its adaptations now being a part of one of the biggest film franchises to date.
Full of fantasy and imagination, The Hobbit is an epic journey that centres on bravery, friendship and loyalty. It’s one of the most original stories ever crafted, and it’s no wonder that it remains hugely popular even 80 years later.
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth‘s Divergent is a well-written, contemporary young adult book with an emotional depth and a host of engaging characters. With an equal balance of action, romance, and personal character developments, the quick pace and rapid plot progression ensures that there’s constantly something happening to keep you interested.
Roth sets up her dystopian world excellently. Whilst there are many young adult dystopias around at the minute, Roth’s book manages to feel original from start to finish and, for that, she has given us a lot to look forward to with the rest of the trilogy.
8. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner is a dark adventure full of hope, determination, and desperation. Centring on a group of young characters who are forced to grow up in unbelievable circumstances, it’s this dark approach to its dystopian setting that is The Maze Runner‘s strongest quality, giving a refreshing approach to typical, teenage coming-of-age story. The Maze Runner explores this theme perfectly, as the boys eat, drink, work, sleep, and fight together, having to grow up fast and become men way ahead of their time.
The Maze Runner may often be compared to The Hunger Games with the similarities in its dystopian setting, having adults in control and inflicting violence on young characters, but, to me, it feels a lot more like Lord of the Flies at times. The Maze Runner is about a group of young boys working together, creating a life for themselves in an unknown environment, making their own rules and keeping order, and ensuring that everybody has a part to play. Thomas works closely with everybody, getting to know the different jobs and Keepers of these roles, describing to us every corner of the Glade. Before the action and dystopian setting really kick in, it’s this focus that The Maze Runner has, seeing how these teenagers cope in a world without adults as they try to understand their place in an unimaginable world.
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
An intense mystery thriller, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a book that you definitely won’t want to put down. Every twist poses a new question, and with a somewhat psychotic conclusion that you wouldn’t even consider an option, this book will have your brain ticking at full pace until you reach the very end.
It’s this intense and never-ending suspense, as well as the idea of never knowing the whole story, that makes Gone Girl such a gripping read. But not only is it a fantastic thriller, it’s also an excellent exploration of relationships.
Introduced to the readers as your average husband and wife, Nick and Amy are a couple that you quickly warm to. But there’s always a side to a couple that you don’t see. Gone Girl lets you in to see how a couple may seem happy and loved-up from the outside, but how this happiness can easily be blurred.
10. Serena by Ron Rash
Serena is a well-written book with poetic language and a great attention to detail, but it’s not nearly tense enough for a book with a death on almost every page. I’m looking forward to seeing the film adaptation, however.
11. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
I began reading this book after watching the first few series of the TV adaptation. They’re both very similar so, for that, the TV series is a brilliant adaptation, and they’ve created the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros on-screen perfectly.
The books tell a fantastic story and has a number of great characters, making for one excellent TV show. If you’ve seen the series then you don’t learn anything new from reading the book, however, just some more in-depth background information, but it’s Martin’s brilliant imagination we have to thank for that.
12. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
I think this book can be defined as a rom-com for males. I so wanted this to be a deep, emotional romance about finding yourself and helping others be their best, but it wasn’t. It’s realistic, I’ll give it that, but I wanted to find two characters I would love, not two that I would be constantly disappointed with.