24in48 2017 – round 2

It’s that time of the year again: 24in48 read-a-thon. This time around, I’m determined to win this thing. Technically, I did last time in January, but I accidentally hit delete on my stopwatch so I couldn’t prove it. Time to change things! Also, I’ll be starting at midnight my time ’cause of work.

TBR:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
  • Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

DFTRKRZ

7:30 AM Saturday

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda: 101 pages
Nevernight: 62 pages

I got up at 5AM despite wanting to start at midnight. I’m bummed this did not happen.

LoB12V3    11:14 AM Saturday

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda: 202 pages
At the Edge of the Universe: 75 pages
==> Finished: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Snack time!

9GPCF1A.png    18:00 PM Saturday

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: 272 pages
At the Edge of the Universe: 14 pages
Nevernight: 366 pages
==> Finished: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time & Nevernight

I’m going to take a break now and possibly sleep for a few hours. My eyes are starting to hurt. I’ll try to get another hour or two of reading in today, but I’ll probably not check in again before tomorrow morning.

ritgdVb     5:38 AM Sunday

At the Edge of the Universe: 407 pages
==> Finished: At the Edge of the Universe

Woah, this was a very exciting read! I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading during the night.

q37GIRk      13:50 PM Sunday

We Are the Ants: 34 pages
The Fellowship of the Ring: 129 pages
Shopaholic and Baby: 172 pages

I’m almost there! I can’t believe I’ve a little more than 5 hours left to complete this read-a-thon. But I won’t complain. My eyes are starting to hurt and the pages are blurred. Time to get outside and put an audiobook in.

wIEZDum.png      19:00 PM Sunday

Shopaholic and Baby: 267 pages
==> Finished: Shopaholic and Baby

Wam, I’m done! I definitely deserve my break right now. After that, I’ll be back for some last reading sprint. Maybe even finish We Are the Ants, who knows?

TOTAL:

  • Books: 5
  • Pages: 2101

Dewey’s 24 Hour read-a-thon 2017 check-in

In this post, I’ll be updating my progress during the Dewey’s 24 Hour read-a-thon. Time zones are being a bitch so I probably won’t be able to reach my goal of reading at least 12 hours. Commitments on Sunday and a full-time job are keeping me from pulling an all-nighter to make up from the time missed.

CHECK-IN 1:

time: 6h30m since the start of the read-a-thon

hours read: 2h17m47s

pages read: 98 of ACOTAR

books finished: 0

CHECK-IN 2:

time: 11h25m since the start (time to take a nap!)

hours read: 4h11m41s

Pages read: 136 of ACOTAR

books finished: 1

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

 

CHECK-IN 3:

time: 23h30m since the start

hours read: 6h5m54s

pages read: 116 of The Maze Runner

books finished: 1

total pages read: 350

 

All in all I’m quite happy with the amount of reading I managed to do despite the limited time had on my hands. I originally wanted to finish strong with at least 12 hours after my name but I had to ad just to 6 instead. We’ll see how I’ll do next time around!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon 2017

It’s been a while since I last appeared on here. There was so much going on in my life and I had the biggest reading slump ever. So with acquiring quite a few books, a free weekend and a read-a-thon coming soon, I figured it’s about time to do something about it.

Dewey’s 24 Hour read-a-thon has been going strong for 10 years now and I’m so excited to participate again (my first and only other time was last year). Where I live, it isn’t bound to start until 2PM, so I still have plenty of time to pick out my TBR for the challenge.

Aside from reading, there are also plenty of challenges going online and even awesome prizes to win! Even if you don’t read the entire 24 hours (which is NOT a requirement by the way), I love the incentive to bring together the whole reading community. It allows me to connect to other people who love and adore books as much as I do. So without further ado, here are the books I plan on reading:

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (currently 180 pages in)
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner (reread)
  • La tulipe du mal by Jörg Kastner
  • La reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas

For more information on the read-a-thon, check out this link: http://www.24hourreadathon.com/

Review – Caraval

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Rating: 5 stars

What started out as a cover-buy and a ‘absolutely must read’ suggestion by my best friend, has quickly turned into one of my favourite books of 2017. Already. Purely aesthetically speaking, the cover draws you in with its black background and elegant swirls. Not to mention the art in the book itself. Each chapter head is decorated beautifully, along with a touch of gold here and there. And that map! It’s so simple yet very elegant and holds a lot of promises the reader hopes will come true.

Caraval is a once-a-year performance where the audience has the chance to participate in the show. Ever since she was little and Scarlett’s mother has disappeared without a trace, she would have loved to participate as well. And this year it seems that her chances will be lost forever with her impending marriage to a count she’s never met. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Donatella whisks her sister away to Legend’s private Island for a chance to participate in the show. As soon as Scarlett awakes, she finds her sister kidnapped by none other than Legend himself. It’s now up to her to find her first if she wants to win this game. As long as she remembers that nothing is what it seems.

The beginning is heart-breaking. I loved the format used in the first chapter. So many feelings are conveyed in these short letters. And it only goes up from there. The writing style is great. Descriptions are well done without a need for more. It’s both elaborate and to the point. There is also a sense of mystery that drives the story forward. Even in scenes where nothing much is happening, the descriptive style is propelling the story from one scene to the next. Magic and reality flows streamlesly from one into the other. The mystery is so real and well built that I kept turning pages until I reached the end.

The characterisation was well done. The characters were well rounded, complex beings with a story to tell. I also like how Scarlett has made this huge journey in getting to know herself, what really matters and those closest to her. I had so many suspicions about all the characters, but the plot twist undid them all. The story is misleading not only the main character Scarlett, but also the readers themselves. Another aspect I really liked is the relationship between Scarlett and Donatella. It reminds me a lot of the one I have with my own sister. Each character has its own voice and they blend in well together.

This book is like a dream come true. The world of Caraval is so magical and the people so wonderful yet strange that I almost wish I were there as a spectator of the whole game. Both the amazing plot twists and the ending leave me wanting more. It’s a fantastic story unlike any one I’ve ever read!

Review – Winter Falls

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Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this E-book and was under no obligation to write a review.

Winter Falls is a fairytale retelling of The Snow Queen. Katie, one of the main characters, struggles to care for a father who distances himself from her and his failing hotel. When one day her one true love Shay goes missing, Katie decides to jump off a bridge into a frozen river. What meets her at the end of her fall is not ice but a winter wonderland in which fantastical beings are real and the very Snow Queen has kidnapped Shay.

I love fairytale retellings. The Snow Queen is probably one of the stories I read the least retellings of, so I was looking forward to this book a lot. Add to that a cover to die for and I was already lost before the story even started.
Beneath the surface of a modern fairytale retelling, multiple dark themes are hidden. This story makes subjects like suicide, death, depression, mental illness and other psychological questions approachable. It is clear that the author wrote this to make us understand that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it may seem. It’s one of many reasons why I love this book.
After a full-in-the-action start, things slowed down quite a bit. The reader gets a chance to discover Katie’s past through flash-backs. Although they were a bit slow-paced, they were very interesting and I loved to see how Katie became the way she is. Sometimes the storyline confused me. It wasn’t always clear what was the past and what was the present and it seemed that both were flowing into each other without a proper break or indication.
And the ending? Despite being cliché, I loved it more than anything. For me, it was a perfect wrap-up for the story.

The general characterisation was ok. Although I feel like only the two or three characters that were featured the most actually benefited from a decent in-depth characterisation. The other people were just cast aside without much explanation.
Katie undergoes a true change on her quest. She starts out by being a know-it-all who distances herself from the rest of the world and evolves into a human being that actually cares about someone else. She realises how selfish she’s been in the past and that the world doesn’t care a 100% about her. Even though her reasons for commiting suicide were dark, she does come out of it as a better, stronger person.

I love how the author of this book dared to be different. There should be more stories like these out there. The world is not all rainbows and sunshine and that was perfectly captured.

24 in 48 Read-a-Thon 2017

First read-a-thon of the year; I’m excited! Coming 21st and 22nd January, I will be participating in the 24 in 48 read-a-thon. This basically means I’ll try to read for 24 hours in total in a two day time-span. Times are indicated in EST but there’s an option to start in our own time zones, which is what I’m going to do. As long as you’re tracking, it’s fine I guess.
I’ll be tracking my reading in this post, along with the hours spent. Hopefully I don’t accidentally hit delete on the digital stopwatch along the way! I also don’t know what I’m going to read. Maybe it’s time I tackle some books on my TBR shelf…

Saturday 08:06 AM:

unrjidi

Read: 50 pages of The Selection by Kierra Cass

Listened to: 1:38:02 (42 pages) of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Saturday 1:58PM:

qleaqd7Read: 25 pages of The Selection

Listened to: 2:59:47 (114 pages) of Brave New World

Saturday 8:24 PM:

fn6rd7nRead: 85 pages of The Selection

Listened to: 1:57:36 (88 pages) of Brave New World

*note: I accidentally hit delete on the stopwatch when copy pasting the image (I was a little over 12 hours in), so I’m restarting the count and adding it to the 12 hours I already read*

Sunday 0:16 AM:

jybfjssRead: 40 pages of The Selection

153 pages of The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells

Sunday 7:50 AM:

s4F3FwT.jpgRead: 170 pages of The Selection

 

Sunday 5PM:

yrmvovbRead: 40 pages of The Elite by Kierra Cass

Listened to 1:20:00 (64 pages) of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday 6:45PM:

ftraa7sRead: 80 pages of The Elite

And I’m done! I never thought I’d manage so I’m really proud of this achievement!

 

Total pages: 1007 pages

Total time: 24:21:21

Books read: 4

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells
  • The Selection by Kierra Cass
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F Scott Fitzgerald14

Review – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

boy-in-the-striped-pyjamas-pbk

 

 

 

 

Rating: 3 stars

 

This is a difficult book to review. It has left me with very ambiguous feelings. On one side, I felt frustrated to no end and on the other I loved the story so much that I couldn’t hate it. I’ve always been interested in war history, particularly that of closely relateable events like the Holocaust. This is a children’s book, it says so on the first page. Naturally, the story itself reflects that. The two main characters are children of nine years old. You can’t expect their opinion and their views to be the same as those of an adult. There are bound to be inconcistencies as these children prioritize what’s important to them – gaining a new friend and having something to talk to. A nine year old boy doesn’t care for much else. The major happenings during the holocaust are bound to becoem somewhat lost to them. Yes, we have to credit kids with a better judgment than most people realize, but their reality is still somewhat distorted. As a parent, I wouldn’t be able to understand not trying to protect my children. Giving them false security is sometimes part of that.

Now, there are some inconcistencies in the book that are unforgiveable though. The use of the imperial system in Nazi Germany? Whether it’s 1943 or 2017, Germany uses the metric system. Despite the childlike naivity (which I can somewhat forgive), I also don’t get how Bruno seems to think that ‘the Führer’ is ‘The Fury’. Children like Bruno and Gretel got stamped into their brains who was who, what was good or bad and why the blond hair and blue eyed ideals were the models of society. Bruno grew up in a military household with no clue about any of these? Not likely. And seriously? A German kid can’t pronounce Auschwitz? I can believe them not knowing about the concentration camps since not a lot of people at the time were really aware of what was happening. But this was too far-fetched.
On the other side, I also realise that this is historical fiction, as in ‘not real’. So yes, things may get tweaked a little here and there. It’s a children’s story and reads like one. It’s a nice and interesting read, although if you’re looking for historical facts, this is not the place to be. The author wasn’t looking to teach us what happened, but to create a fictional boy in a fictional Nazi Germany who would meet the fictional son of a fictional German officer. No matter that usually the concentration camps were surrounded by bare land and nobody in their right mind would leave a ten metre high fence unelectrified or unguarded. Never mind even let a whole large enough for a boy to fit through go undetected and unrepaired.

Beyond all the initial frustrations (which was like the first 30 pages or so), I was able to look past that and enjoy the story for what it is: a simple, innocent yet unique take on what happened during the Holocaust. The friendship between the two boys is of its purest form.
The story concept is unique and holds a lot of premise. The idea is simple enough (as often with great ideas). The author’s distinctive writing style could do a great job at it, but I’m sad that it hasn’t been explored as well as I’d hoped. I had high hopes for this one, but was met with a lot of dissappointment and frustration. Bruno does notice things going on, but if it weren’t for the lack of his brain, something more could have come out of it. Fortunately, although Bruno was irritating, insensitive and egocentrical at the beginning, he shows an interesting change in the last few chapters. He begins to understand more about what is actually going on, he knows how to show remorse and has actual feelings that make me proud of him as a human being.

The story was a real tear-jerker and especially the ending, although expected, made me bawl my eyes out. I suggest you all read this to make out for yourself whether you like it or not.

Review – Look to the Stars

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Rating: 4 stars

I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Look to the Stars is the first book in the Orien trilogy which takes place in a place called Ashen. Brave’s father goes missing one day and she is sent on finding him. With the help of Aras, one of Ashen’s guards, she goes many lenghts to locate her father. Along the way, she even finds out more about herself, about her dark past and the many secrets Ashen holds.

Let me begin by saying that the book cover is gorgeous! The starlit sky is a wonderful combination of blue and many hues of purple, which so coincidentally are my favourite colours. Second, I was a bit scared going into this book when I noticed the many insanely high ratings it has. It made me slightly nervous (what if I don’t like it?) but boy was I not dissappointed!
The beginning was quite slow with a lot of different thoughts all thrown together, which didn’t make much sense in the long run. I had to wait quite a bit for everything to come together. But maybe that’s due to the fact that I read it in several installments instead of in one go. Anywho, the book has a unique concept and I feel that it has been well developped, despite the slow beginning. The reader gets a deeper understanding of this world Brave and her friends live in and that’s definitely a big bonus point.

Most of the characters were a lot of fun and I loved all of their interactions (which kind of brought the book together for me). I just didn’t feel much of a connection with Brave and even at the end of the book, I realised that I didn’t care a lot about her. She was irritating from the get-go, although I have to admit that she grew up quite a bit throughout the whole story. I must say that all of the characters undergo a change that does feel natural, no matter how I feel about them. Which is again something not everyone manages to convey so naturally.

This book has ended on a huge cliffhanger which leaves no choice but to dive into the rest of the series once the sequels are out.

A Year of Reading – 2017 Resolutions

As promised, here is the list of my bookish resolutions for the year of 2017. After going through my 2016 wrap-up, I’ve been thinking about the past year. There are some resolutions I’m inclined to keep, while I also would like to completely do away with others. The result is this:

 

Read 50 pages a day:

Reading a minimum of 137 pages a day to meet my yearly goal of  135 books was awesome and definitely a worthwhile experience. However, I don’t think I can do it again. My life has changed so much over the last couple of months and it’s honestly become a burden to have to reach such a high goal each day, a year long. I definitely enjoy reading and I feel that 50 pages a day is a nice start. It’s not too much and there’s only  moving forward.

Read 100 books:

Again, I’m lowering my goal of books for the year. This is partly because I have already read 280 books of my 365 book goal in three years so I can do it slowly from now on. And the other part is again because I want to take my time even more enjoying the little things in reading for fun.

Review at least 1 book a month:

This one was mentioned in more or less the same format last year and I only managed to comply in the second part of the year. 2017 however, is going to be the year in which I’ll review at least one book per month. I can easily do that, if I just don’t forget to make notes while I’m engrossed in a book.

Read 12 classics:

There are so many classics out there that I have never touched let alone heard about and I want to change that. I pledge to read at least one classic per month, which should be totally doable. Duh.

Listen to 5 audiobooks:

Last year, I failed majorly on this part. I listened to so few audiobooks that I don’t even remember which ones and when I listened to them. This year, things will definitely change.

 

So, there you have it, my 5 bookish resolutions for 2017. And yes, I deliberately chose half as many as last year. Maybe it will give me a higher chance at succeeding. We’ll see!

A Year of Reading – 2016 Wrap-up

Another year has come and gone, so it’s time for me to look back on those bookish resolutions I made at the beginning of the previous year. What better time to do this than in the last hour of the current year?

Read 50.000 pages in a year:
I ended up reading a whopping 75.049 pages this year. Wow, just wow. I didn’t even think I’m capable of that. Tracking my reading this entire year has definitely taught me some things.

Read 135 books:
I ended up reading 280. That is 146 books ahead of schedule according to my Goodreads challenge. Again, I seem to have underestimated myself at the beginning of the year!

Big books:
Of the five big books that I put on my 2016 TBR list, only Outlander hasn’t been finished. And I’m currently reading the book, even though I’m nowhere near done (I’m about a hundred pages in). I didn’t do too bad on this one.

Reviewing:
Except for the first part of the year, I mananged to stick to some sort of loosely based reviewing schedule. At least it pushed me to get minium one review out per month. In general, I achieved that goal, with December topping (four reviews).

Listen to audiobooks more:
Also big fail on this one. I listened to maybe 5 audiobooks through the entirety of the year and they were all classics to help me with their understanding while I as actually reading the physical copy.

Book buying ban:
This one is kind of a fail because in December alone, I bought seven books, excluding those that were my Christmas gift to myself.

Do not read the last page:
Yeah well, habits are hard to kill, right? At least with ebooks and audiobooks, it’s more difficult to do.

DNF what I don’t like.
I am not a quitter but I really want to enjoy reading more. I don’t wan’t to solely read for the sake of reading anymore. Although it pains me to DNF a book (I only cast away one book this year), if I’m not interested after say 100 pages, I should just man up. I want to go back to just plain reading. I guess I did not really achieve that this year.

Read graphic novels, biographies and fantasy.
I obviously succeeded in the first part. The other two not so much. I haven’t read a single biography this year and even the fantasy genre is getting dust. Both genres are so not up my alley and I am going to give myself the excuse that  it doesn’t really matter anyway. Again, I should read more for personal enjoyment than according to social acceptability.

Finish at least 10 series I started before 2016.
I finished 6: Song of Ice and Fire, Maze Runner, Miss Peregrine’s, Lunar Chronicles, Pillars of the Earth, Fall of Giants trilogy. Even though the challenge in itself is a fail, I’m glad I reached at least the halfway point. Maybe I can do better next year arond.

All in all, I didn’t too shabbily, although there’s always room for improvement. I’m especially proud of succeeding resolutions one through three and even for sticking with reviewing in the second part of the year.

Keep an eye out for my 2017 resolutions to be posted soon. Wishing you a happy New Year and take care!