Results of 2018 Reading Challenge and Why I’m Not Doing One in 2019

I completed a reading challenge in 2017 and enjoyed it so much I decided to do another one in 2018. I spotted the perfect one when it was posted in a Facebook group I belong to. The challenge was 40 books for 40 years and was set up by a group of book-loving friends who were all turning 40 in 2018. As I was also turning 40 in 2018 I thought this would be a great challenge to join in. Here are the books I chose. As you can see, there is one missing! I will explain why I am not doing a challenge this year at the end of the post.

books-1655783_640

1)A book about ww1Barefoot on The Cobbles by Janet Few (a bit of a cheat as the book was not specifically about WW1 but it did cover that time period and I really wanted to help out a fellow indie author and read her book!)

2)A non-fiction book about sport – knew I would struggle with this one, and despite a few helpful suggestions from people towards the end, I ran out of time, plus couldn’t be bothered!

3)A Crime novelSix Stories by Matt Wesolowski – absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, unique format, incredibly creepy and Hydra by the same author is wonderful too. His next book Changeling is on my to-read list!

4)A book for adults written by a predominantly children’s authorThe Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I’ve never read Harry Potter but was curious to read this and I was pleasantly surprised. It kept my attention and kept me entertained when staying overnight in the hospital with my son!

5)A sequel to a book you’ve already read – Force of Nature by Jane Harper – a slight cheat again, as it’s not really a sequel, but it is her second book and contains the same main character!

6) A book that’s been on your TBR pile for more than 12 months – Release – Patrick Ness – one of my favourite authors, so this was an easy one and did not disappoint

7) An autobiography – Johnny Cash – I’m a fan, plus it was an excuse to read a book I’d bought my mum for Christmas! Really enjoyed this

8) A Carnegie medal winner – One by Sarah Crossan – a quick google of Carnegie medal winners and I liked the sound of this. It was a very quick read, written in verse. Pretty good.

9) A historical novel – The Finest Hat In The Whole World – Colleen Parkinson – an easy choice, as the author is a friend of mine, and this book is incredible! I don’t normally read historical fiction but this was an epic family saga and I couldn’t put it down.

10) A book that is about Summer – Jackdaw Summer by David Almond – my son and I love David Almond and are working out way through his books, so this was an easy and very enjoyable choice. Also a quick read!

11) A book with a prominent character who is LGBTQIA – Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin – This was a book on my to-read list anyway, so it was another easy choice and I really loved this book. YA at its best.

12) A book with a number in the title – 11.22.63 by Stephen King – I love Stephen King so when I saw this title I knew it was the one to read to tick off number 12. Great book!

13) The final book in a series – Bonds of Blood and Spirit – Legacies – When I was a reviewer for the sadly defunct site Underground Book Reviews, I picked this series to read as it sounded so different to anything I normally go for. Vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters. This was the last in the series and the last book I ever read and reviewed for UBR! Fantastic series.

14) A book from a genre you normally avoid – Jackson by Tracy Podger – This is a romance book, I guess, but a very hard-hitting gritty one. I’d seen it come up in some groups I’m in on Facebook and although I never read romance or erotica, I decided to pick it for this challenge as it sounded pretty interesting. It was a really good book and it was really good to try a genre I normally avoid!

15) A children’s book you didn’t read as a child – Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl – I somehow missed this as a child but thoroughly enjoyed it for the first time as an adult!

16) A book originally published under a nom de plume – The Secret Path (Spooksville Book 1) by Christopher Pike – a google search brought Christopher Pike up as someone who writes under a pen name. I’d forgotten about his books, but I actually devoured tons of these as a young teen! I didn’t really enjoy this one though, or his writing style, now I’m an adult. I kind of skim read this.

17) A book recommended to you by a friend – The Minotaur Hunt by Miriam Hastings – My favourite indie author Kate Rigby recommended this indie book to me and I’m so glad I read it, as it’s a fantastic example of how amazing self-pubbed books can be! A disturbing examination of mental illness, I couldn’t put this down.

18) A book with a title featuring the weather – Black Storm by Mark Gillespie – Mark is an author I’ve been following for some time. I try to read as many of his books as I can, but he writes so many, it’s a job to keep up! If you like dark post-apocalyptic, dystopian and alternative history, in short, sharp bursts of action, this is the author for you.

19) A book whose title begins with the first letter of your name – Clay by David Almond – Another David Almond book, so I was happy. Just love his work!

20) A book you chose solely by the cover – Ink by Alice Broadway- beautiful cover and intriguing blurb, but this left me underwhelmed. I just couldn’t care about the characters of the story, so won’t be reading any more in the series.

21) A book where the illustrator is credited on the front cover – The Song From Somewhere Else by A.F Harrold – a kids books in the vein of David Almond, but not as good, I picked this up for one of my kids and as it is full of beautiful illustrations, the artist was credited on the front cover

22) A book published in the year you were born – Still I Rise by Maya Angelou – I don’t normally read poetry, but this was a real treat and worth doing the whole challenge for.

23) A book set in a country you’ve never visited before – Girlhood by Cat Clarke –set in Scotland. I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t made it yet. My daughter bought herself four books by this author and I read some all. Some were better than others, but my daughter got more from them than I did.

24) A book based on or inspired by a true story – Smash all the Windows by Jane Davis – a different tragedy unfolds here, but this was inspired by the Hillsborough tragedy, and Jane Davis is a fantastic indie writer I follow. I’ve read quite a few of hers now and they never disappoint.

25) a book translated from another language – Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin – Wow, this was different. Creepy, eerie, dark, confusing.

26) A Book of short stories – Paisley Shirt by Gail Aldwin – I rarely read short story collections, but I should make more effort, This was a real treat written by an author I know.

27) A book about a culture you don’t know much about – The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri – I’m sorry to say I didn’t finish this one. I just couldn’t get into it and sadly none of the characters interested me.

28) A collaboration novel (2 or more authors) – Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King – another slightly disappointing one. It was good, but not great, and it was the characters that let me down. I just struggled to care about them!

29) A book by an author you’ve never read before – Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Penna – I think this was on my to-read list for some reason, but I’d never heard of the author and it was a pleasure to discover he has more than one book out as I really, really enjoyed this. The characterisation was spot on. I will definitely read the rest of his when I can!

30) A book with an alliterative title – Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay – bought this for my daughter as she had been enjoying the TV show, but sadly I didn’t really enjoy it, or the TV show.

31) A book you spotted on bookstagram – The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz- having read and loved Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, I spotted this on Instagram and knew I had to read it. It was brilliant and I love this author!

32) A fantasy novel – The Oscillator – JK Neve – a brilliant, short, YA fantasy novel written by a guy who comes to my writing group, this was an easy choice!

33) A book set in space – Space Police by David Blake – spotted in a Facebook group, knew it would help tick this one off, but it wasn’t my kind of book

34) re-read a book you read as a child – My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards – I loved these books as a child so it was great to read this one again!

35) A book of poetry or a book written in verse – With Double blade – Jean Gill – again, don’t often read poetry, so it was good to be dragged out of my comfort zone and I really liked this

36) A book considered a classic in your favourite genre – The Pigman by Paul Zindel – My favourite genre is YA, and this was a pleasure to read.

37) A green book – Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – This came up when I googled ‘green’ books, and as I loved The Handmaid’s Tale, it was an easy pick, but I didn’t really like it, sadly. It just didn’t do much for me.

38) A 2018 debut novel – The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – Brilliant YA book written in poetic verse, I devoured this and loved every page.

39) Read a holiday-themed book around the time of that holiday – Pet Sematary by Stephen King – another slight cheat. I chose Halloween and this is a spooky book, but not one specifically about Halloween. Was great reading it again though, and it prompted me to watch the old version of the film again.

40) Start a book on your birthday, a book that simply takes your fancy! – The Outsider by Stephen King – I got this as a birthday present so it was the perfect choice and I really really enjoyed this one.

So, there they are. The good and the not so good, as well as the slight cheats and the one I didn’t read! I’m proud to point out that there are 12 indie books in this list! It was great to be able to tick books off from the challenge and help out my fellow indies at the same time. This was a great challenge and I mostly enjoyed it, however, I’m not doing one this year. Last year, most of my reading time was taken up by trying to complete this challenge and by editing my own books on my kindle. Therefore, my to-read list of books I actually want to check out is ridiculous! I need to tackle that this year and I don’t want to read any books that are not my kind of thing. It is good to get out of your comfort zone, and I admit that the poetry, short stories, romance and historical fiction books I read for this challenge were all a pleasant surprise, but at the same time, you know what you like, don’t you? I know what I like, and what I am always searching for is compelling, well-written and character driven books, in almost any genre. Hard to find at times!

So, folks what did you read in 2018? What was the best book you read? The most disappointing? Did you discover any new authors? Are you going to take part in a reading challenge this year? Please feel free to comment and share!

My 2017 Reading Challenge

At the start of 2017 I came across a post on Facebook about a reading challenge. I had seen things like this before and never felt the urge to join in. I’m still not sure why I did this time, actually. But I am so glad I did and I am even considering doing a similar challenge in 2018. So, I thought I would share the books I read for the challenge with you, as well as mini-review of each. The best thing about doing this challenge was reading books I would not otherwise have read. It really dragged me out of my comfort zone!

  1. A Book You Read In School – Lord of The Flies by William Golding. This was great to revisit. I had actually been meaning to re-read it again at some point, as the post-apocalyptic YA series I have planned has some similar themes. If you’ve not read it, this chilling adventure story of what happens when a group of kids become abandoned without adults on a deserted island, is well worth a read.
  2. A Book From Your Childhood – King of The Vagabonds by Colin Dann. To be honest, I would have chosen Watership Down by Richard Adams, as this is my absolute favourite childhood book, but I had already re-read it the year before. I couldn’t quite recall the title and author of this book about a pet cat who wants to live with the ferals in his neighbourhood, but a  bit of Googling soon helped me out. I ordered the paperback and thoroughly enjoyed a little trip down memory lane. I was probably about ten when my oldest sister bought me this book for Christmas. I wrote similar stories myself after reading it and drew pictures too.
  3. A Book Published Over 100 Years Ago – The Terrifying Tales by Edgar Allen Poe. I had high hopes for this, but I really didn’t like it! I enjoyed the first one, The Tell-Tale Heart, and I thought The Pit and The Pendulum was also excellent, but the rest? I kept skim reading them. They totally lost me. I was bored.
  4. A Book Published In The Last Year – The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engels. At the start of 2017 my friend author Kate Rigby asked me to join a Facebook group called Book Connectors. It’s an awesome group made up of authors, bloggers, readers and reviewers. Because of this group, I am constantly adding more books to my to-read pile! This was the first one that caught my eye due to so many people reviewing it in the group. A dark tale about the twisted lives of the enigmatic and tragic Roanoke girls. I couldn’t put it down.
  5. A Non-Fiction Book – How To Keep Ducks. I’ve had ducks and chickens for years and have three chicken books and not one duck book. So I decided to tick this one off by buying a duck care book! It was very interesting!
  6. A Book Written By A Male Author – History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. I would like to read more by this author, but this book didn’t exactly thrill me. Brilliant plot, excellent characters and dialogue. It was just all a bit too tragic and depressing.
  7. A Book Written By A Female Author – Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby. I was a fan of Kate’s before we became friends, and I am slowly working my way through her many books. This tale of a working-class disabled boy who falls in love with an able-bodied middle-class girl is just classic Kate Rigby. I just want to cosy up with her books and immerse myself into the little world’s she creates so lovingly. I always fall in love with her characters.
  8. A Book By Someone Who Isn’t A Writer – Coreography by Corey Feldman. This was a bit of a challenge, as if you think about it, anyone who has written a book is a writer! But I interpreted it to mean someone who is better known for something else, and I had wanted to read this book for ages, so it was a good opportunity to tick another off the challenge. I was a massive fan of Corey Haim back in the day, fancied the absolute pants off him, if truth be told. Me and my sister obsessed over Corey films. The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream, Licence To Drive and so on. This book is eye-opening in the most tragic of ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpse behind the scenes of classic films like The Goonies and The Lost Boys, but everything else Corey Feldman had to reveal was rather disturbing and I truly hope the two Corey’s get justice one day for what was done to them.
  9. A Book That Became A Film – Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Random Riggs. I think this was the first book I read in 2017! I bought it for one of my kids for Christmas and ended up reading it before she did. Brilliant book, and although they alter things a bit, it’s also a brilliant movie!
  10. A Book Published In The 20th Century – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. One I had been meaning to read forever! And yes, I stupidly watched the TV show first. I was disturbed by it, yet could not stop watching. The same thing happened when I read the book. I think her writing style is superb and I desperately want to read more by her!
  11. A Book Set In Your Home-Town/Region – Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett. Half set in Dorset, half in France, I absolutely loved this YA magic realism novel. It’s a fantastic story about a girl who can bend trees. Really special.
  12. A Book With Someone’s Name In The Title – Searching For Ethan by Robert Cowan. I discovered Robert Cowan when I reviewed one of his books for Underground Book Reviews. I’d been meaning to read another one for some time, as I really liked his style and content. This book was great. Gritty coming-of-age!
  13. A Book With A Number In The Title – The Six Train To Wisconsin – Kourtney Heintz. One I picked to review for Underground Book Reviews. A really interesting and unique story about a woman who can read the thoughts and feelings of others.
  14. A Book With A Character With Your First Name – A Little Bit Of Chantelle Rose by Cristine Hodgson. I was really struggling with this one, until a fellow Book Connector author posted about her book in the group. This is not the type of book I would normally read, but I actually really enjoyed it.
  15. A Book Someone Else Recommended To You – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. My daughter read this book because the librarian at her school recommended it to her. She then recommended it to me. It was utterly brilliant. An extremely moving and complex story about family secrets.
  16. A Book With Over 500 Pages – The Bachman Books by Stephen King. I may have cheated a bit with this one. I had already read all the books in this collection, except for The Road. So, I just read The Road. (Compelling YA dystopian plot about a Hunger Games-esque contest that sees teenage boys walking until they drop)
  17. A Book You Can Finish In A Day – The End by Justine Avery.  Another one picked for Underground Book Reviews, this novelette was extremely short and also unputdownable. A fast-paced story about a man who witnesses his own death on his Go-Pro camera before it has happened.
  18. A Previously Banned Book – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I had a great reaction on my Facebook author page when I asked for recommendations for a banned book to read. In the end, I chose this one and I’m really glad I did. The story of a murdered family and the subsequent manhunt and trial of their killers, is written in such an extraordinary way, I can’t help but think it would struggle to get published these days. You know who did it from the start. The plot is all about the killers, their lives, and attitudes, and the authorities attempt to catch them. Fascinating read.
  19. A Book With A One Word Title – Bloq by Alan Jones. Another book I had picked to review for UBR. This gritty tale of a missing girl and her father’s desperate attempts to find her was shocking, brutal and also very moving.
  20. A Book Translated From Another Language – Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais. I came across this in the Book Connectors group. One of the lovely bloggers had reviewed it and it sounded like something I would enjoy. Three girls are voted as the ugliest in their school in a Facebook contest. How they react to this makes one hilarious and inspiring story.
  21. A Book That Will Improve A Specific Area Of Your Life – Rise Of The Machines: Human Authors In A Digital World by Kristen Lamb. A great book for indie writers just starting out. I wish I had read this before I started!
  22. A Memoir Or Journal – How Not To Be An American High-School Girl In The 70’s by Gail Spencer Choate. Another book I picked to review for UBR. I really enjoyed this; a cringe inducing recollection of awkward teenage moments. Great fun.
  23. A Book Written By Someone Younger Than You – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I saw this in Book Connectors, bought it, devoured it and promptly passed it to my daughter who did the same. One of those books you think about for a long time afterwards. I urge everyone to read it. A powerful portrayal of racism and class in modern America.
  24. A Book Set Somewhere You’ll Be Visiting This Year – The Butcher Of Glastonbury by David Bowker. We went to Somerset in April, and there are a fair few books set in that region, but this one seemed so bizarre I just had to pick it. It’s the story of a girl who returns home one day to find her entire family brutally butchered. She then helps the local detective try to solve the case and catch the killer, but she knows it was not a human who dismembered her family. This book gets more surreal with every page, but I really enjoyed it! A strange and satisfying little find.
  25. An Award Winning Book – Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz. I absolutely loved this book. The tender story of two lonely boys who become best friends and have to face their true identities and desires. My daughter just read it and she loved it as much as me. Short, snappy chapters, more dialogue than narrative. First person narrative. It’s beautiful.
  26. A Self-Published Book – Uncivil Wars by Wendi Kelly and Deborah Dorchak. Another UBR pick, I have been reading this series for a while now. Not a genre I would ordinarily pick, (shape-shifters, werewolves, vampires and more) I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the character development and complex plots. Brilliant sutff.

So, that’s my list! My 2017 Reading Challenge. It’s been tremendous fun seeking out bookt so fit the criteria and meet the challenge. I’ve discovered some amazing new authors and read some books that will stay with me forever. I am pretty sure if I can find a good challenge for 2018, then I’ll do it. How about you? Have you read any of these books? Any take your fancy? Have you ever tried a reading challenge and if so, how did you get on? Please feel free to share and comment!