Welcome back friends! Did you miss me? I am fully aware of the unplanned hiatus over the past 5 or so months. Sorry about that! To be honest I have no idea what happened.. one minute I was all up to date with my reviews. Then I blinked and 10 reviews needed writing and I just couldn’t bring myself to it.. Especially as most of them would be on my Instagram anyway. Psst! Come be my friend!
Anyway, now that 2020 is literally around the corner it’s the perfect time to hit restart and start again.
Like many of you, I’ve set myself some new challenges and promised a whole heap of things to achieve this year. Such as a book buying ban in 2020. Yes, I know I’ve said it before but 2/3 of my home library are unread books. So the first challenge is to:
Read the majority of the books I already own and that have been sat on my TBR shelf for way to long including the complete Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory (bring all the historical fiction, girl!)
Last year I tried to complete 2019 Reading Challenge, which included 35 prompts for different books, but didn’t challenge me enough to reach further than what I normally pick up.
As most of you know, I prefer to read thrillers and mysteries. I’ve wanted to try step out of my comfort zone and therefore my second challenge is to:
Read 12 books in 12 different genres.
I have picked the books ahead of time, and if you guys wanted to come join in, you’re more than welcome to! I will be posting a review and discussion post on Instagram and here on the last day of every month.
(This is another reason why you should subscribe and follow me on Instagram -> https://www.instagram.com/bookskatlikes/ … 😉 )
Dystopian – Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
For this challenge I pick Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The premise sounds really quite interesting and I cannot wait to dive right into it!
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.”
But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
Romance – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
I have had a copy of this on my shelf for a little while now, the copy I own is also in Estonian, so it’s a perfect excuse to pick it up. February’s choice is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
The only thing in the world that matters to Mrs Bennett, is marrying all five of her daughters to rich, landed gentlemen.
So when two wealthy young gentlemen move to town, she vows that at least one of her daughters will marry into their fortunes.
Jane and Elizabeth, her eldest daughters, soon discover that love is rarely straightforward and is often surprising. Because, surely that sullen, quiet, mysterious Mr Darcy can’t be more than he seems . . . can he?
Magical Realism – The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Saw The Ten Thousand Doors of January on the list of 8 can’t-miss magical realism books and I was sold by the blurb. That’s really all it is.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Biography/Autobiography – Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
So I was searching for a biography for a while as I couldn’t think who’s life I’d like to read about; and then I came across The Enigma, which inspired The Imitation Game (only my favourite film ever!). Sold, sold, sold! Guys, if you haven’t seen this film – you are majorly missing out. I will let you know what I thought of the book, of course.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades–all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times–bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing’s royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.
Capturing both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life, Andrew Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936–the concept of a universal machine–laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic.
At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program–all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
Satire – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Oh hello, I did not know American Psycho is classed as satire, but hey, I’ll take it! I’ve been wanting to read this forever (who knew!).
Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?
Patrick Bateman has it all: good looks, youth, charm, a job on Wall Street, reservations at every new restaurant in town and a line of girls around the block. He is also a psychopath. A man addicted to his superficial, perfect life, he pulls us into a dark underworld where the American Dream becomes a nightmare . . .
Classic – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This is my mother’s favourite book. I meant to read it in 2019 but for some reason it just got pushed to the back of the TBR pile. June is Jane Eyre‘s turn.
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity.
How she takes up the post of governess at Thornfield Hall, meets and loves Mr Rochester and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage are elements in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than that traditionally accorded to her sex in Victorian society.
Fantasy – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Talk about right out of comfort zone, fantasy is really not my thing. At all. The Raven cycle has previously caught my attention due to great reviews and the reviews make me think I may actually enjoy The Raven Boys more than I anticipate. Lets find out!
Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die.
When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.
Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.
Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?
Non-Fiction – Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy
One that speaks for itself. You know I binged the hell out of HBO Chernobyl miniseries.
On the morning of 26 April 1986 Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine. The outburst put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation. In the end, less than five percent of the reactor’s fuel escaped, but that was enough to contaminate over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.
In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy recreates these events in all of their drama, telling the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep.
While it is clear that the immediate cause of the accident was a turbine test gone wrong, Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry.
A little more than five years later, the Soviet Union would fall apart, destroyed from within by its unsustainable communist ideology and the dysfunctional managerial and economic systems laid bare in the wake of the disaster.
Young Adult/Coming-of-Age – The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
I believe this was a compulsory read back when I was in school. For me reading has always been more for pleasure and I absolutely hated when I was told what to read, rather than being able to pick my own books. I don’t remember if I ever actually read this, or if I managed to get a summary off the internet at the time. Today I feel I am ready to read The Catcher in the Rye at my own free will.
It’s Christmas time and Holden Caulfield has just been expelled from yet another school. Fleeing the crooks at Pencey Prep, he pinballs around New York City seeking solace in fleeting encounters – shooting the bull with strangers in dive hotels, wandering alone round Central Park, getting beaten up by pimps and cut down by erstwhile girlfriends.
The city is beautiful and terrible, in all its neon loneliness and seedy glamour, its mingled sense of possibility and emptiness. Holden passes through it like a ghost, thinking always of his kid sister Phoebe, the only person who really understands him, and his determination to escape the phonies and find a life of true meaning.
Mythology – Circe by Madeline Miller
Is it me, or am I just secretly trying to catch up with the hyped up books of 2019? Circe was ALL OVER THE PLACE this year (2019). Can it deliver?..
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother.
Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts.
Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.
So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world.
Adventure – The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Suppose I enjoy the film, why wouldn’t I enjoy the book? The Hobbit has been on my list forever, just never had the strength to pick it over a thriller, ha!
Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services – as a burglar – on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s life is never to be the same again.
Memoir – Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
I’ve seen Girl, Interrupted around quite a bit recently as mental health is being discussed more and more in today’s society. I’m intrigued by this story and really look forward to reading this book.
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression.
She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital renowned for its famous clientele – Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor and Ray Charles.
A clear-sighted, unflinching work that provokes questions about our definitions of sane and insane, Kaysen’s extraordinary memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers.