Goodreads Reading Challengeย 


So, last year my goals was to read 60 books in 2015. Unfortunately, I only got to 57. I’m not very good at my time management skills ๐Ÿ˜…

So for this year, my goal is to try and read 55 books. I’m hopefully going to be going to China on Erasmus later in the year which will leave me with less time to read as I won’t be able to bring books with me and there’s not really a hope of me being able to read books in Chinese.

Here’s a few of the books I hope to read this year…



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And a lot more after that too. Hopefully once my exams are finished I’ll be able to get time to read!

Review: Brooklyn

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Author: Colm Tรณibรญn
Publisher: Penguin
Read: 12th December 2015
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Culture (Ireland, America), Immigration


Summary

It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma – a devastating choice between duty and one great love.


Review

warning, there are some spoilers in this review ~

I won’t lie, the main reason I picked this book up was because Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson are on this cover. I thought, hm, I like these people, little bit of home town pride, I’ll give it a try. Also, I had been told by a few older people that Colm Tรณibรญn was a good writer. All the Irish pride to be honest.

The book starts off in Ireland, in Wexford Town, where Eilis Lacey lives with her sister and her mother. Her brothers have all gone to England to work as there is very little opportunity to find good jobs in rural 1950’s Ireland – don’t be fooled by the ‘town’ part of Wexford Town. It’s still very much the countryside. With many girls moving to Dublin to find jobs, such as I know my own Nanny (who is from Wexford) had to do, Eilis knows she could find a good job there, but is unable to afford the move to Dublin. She and her sister are all her mother have left now. But her sister, Rose, who has a job and goes golfing, is able to set it up so that Eilis can emigrate to Brooklyn and find work for herself. A priest from Brooklyn, who is over visiting, is the one to ensure Eilis a job and lodgings in Brooklyn, as well as the papers she needs to move to New York.

For Eilis, who has never left home before, this is a huge opportunity as well as the scariest thing she has done in her life. She takes the ferry to England where she meets with her brother for a few hours before boarding the ship to America. After rough seas and several nights in stuffy conditions, Eilis makes it to America, where her new life will begin.

As is typical for most Irish girls from rural areas in the 50’s who lived with their mothers for many years past eighteen, Eilis is shy and unsure of herself. She doesn’t know how to act in this new environment and so follows the advise of the priest, volunteering at the church and keeping her nose clean. She finds it hard to get along with the girls at the boarding house but does her best to fit in around the strict and nosey landlady – who is also Irish. She meets Tony, an Italian American who Eilis originally thinks is Irish American until he comes clean. Not that she minds, as she starts a life with him and is soon forgetting about the one she has left behind. Of course, she still sends presents home to Ireland and constantly sends letters back to her family.

And then, she is dragged back to Ireland by Rose’s death. Tony, not wanting to lose Eilis after being with her for two years and guessing that she might not return to Brooklyn once she has gone back to Ireland, asks her to marry him. Eilis agrees, but keeps it a secret from every one. She returns to Ireland to keep her mother company and stays for several weeks as she learns that her friend is to be married and she realises she should stay for the wedding. Of course, Eilis has changed a lot in the years she has been gone and is the talk of the town once she returns. She finds herself drawn to Jim Farrell, the man who is to own the local pub once his parents retire, who previous said nothing to her and now that she has returned he sees his opportunity to set things right and to see if he has a chance with her as she takes a day of accounting work for the firm Rose used to work at. But as letters come from Tony, Eilis realises that her life is in Brooklyn now. She comes clean to her mother about her marriage and while disappointed that she can’t stay and that she didn’t tell her sooner, her mother urges her to return to her husband.

A story of new beginnings, different life chances and a different way of life, Brooklyn is very true to how so many Irish people left Ireland in search of a better life and never returned once they had found it. Although the character of Eilis is a little flat, the story is a good one for such a short book and I did enjoy reading it.


 Recommend

If you like books about Ireland, this is a good one. The Irish people are portrayed as Irish people are, not the way a lot of Americans would perceive them to be, with the insane accents and other such things. Sorry, Americans, but a lot of the time you get us pretty wrong. It’s a short sweet tale of one girl’s journey to American and how she dealt with her new life there. If you like short books that are good for a quick read, you’ll like this book.


Rating

I have given this book a 4/5๐ŸŒŸ

Goodreads

Review: Soundless

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Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Puffin
Read: 25th December 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Chinese Mythology


Summary

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village. Her people are at the mercy of a mysterious faraway kingdom, which delivers food in return for precious metals mined from the treacherous cliffs surrounding them.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, their rations shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the boy she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

Then Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon..


Review

Set in what I assume to by Dynasty China, Fei is an apprentice painter in her small mountain top village where the only work is that of a painter, a servant or a miner. People in the town have not been able to hear sound for generations – they live in constant silence and must use sign language to communicate with one another. But the people in the village are slowly going blind and beginning to starve. With the road to pastures and fields blocked off for several years from a landslide, the people of the village must depend on the township at the bottom of the mountain to send them food and all of the food is rationed out carefully, with stealing a high crime. Fei, not knowing what to do, wishes she could help her people out somehow.

When one morning she awakens to the headboard of her bed banging against the wall, she is shocked. She cannot phantom what this is, does not understand why she can hear all of a sudden. When her ex-lover Li Wei, who she had to spilt from in order to go on with her apprenticeship, tells her he’s going to leave the village, Fei realises that she must go with him in order to make sure he survives going down the cliff face – the sides are unstable and rocks fall often and without the ability to hear, it’s suicidal. They want to talk with the man who gives them the food to see if he can help to give them more so that their village will survive.

What they find is beyond their imagination and they soon come to realise that not everything is at it seems from their mountain top. With dangers looming at every turn, from entering the township to exiting it once again as well as dealing with all the people inside, Fei and Li Wei scramble back to warn their village of the dangers it faces.

A lot of people didn’t enjoy this book from what I’ve seen on Goodreads, but I thought it was a nice quick read. Although I do study Chinese, I don’t actually know the myth the book is based on because Chinese folklore isn’t a part of any of my modules. But I liked it, I liked the way Fei was an expert painter and even though he worked in the mines all day, Li Wei was a good carver. Their old love blossoms again towards the end of the story and I thought it was cute after two years of separation how they came together to get answers and help their village.


Recommend

If you liked Richelle Mead’s other books, the Vampire Academy series or the Bloodlines series, I don’t know how much you’ll like this. It is very different from her other books and the world building isn’t overly done like we have for the two other series. It’s more, if you liked the concept of ACOTAR you’ll like this. Also, I’ve come to learn that Richelle Mead is bringing out a new book series in April, the first book being The Glittering Court and it sounds really good so I’m super excited for that one.


Rating

I gave this book a 4/5๐ŸŒŸ

Goodreads

Review: P.S. I Still Love You

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Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Scholastic
Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Book Two
Read: 27th December 2015
Genre: Young Adult, YA, Contemporary, Romance


Summary

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

They had just been pretending.
Except suddenly they weren’t. Now
Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

Then another boy from her past
returns to her life, and Lara Jean’s
feelings for him return too.

Can a girl be in love with two
boys at the same time?


Review

I was super excited to read this book, I won’t even lie. I loved To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and I loved PS I Still Love You.

Lara Jean has settled into a relationship with Peter K and things are going well. Margo returns to Scotland, school is about to start back – and then the worst thing imaginable to a teenage girl happens.

A video of Lara Jean and Peter kissing in the hot tub is posted on Instagram, for the whole world to see. Lara Jean is in shock and can’t believe it, and her guess is that Genevieve took it and had it posted. But with no proof, Lara Jean must go on. Peter is with her now, not Genevieve and they’ve made a rule not to break each other’s hearts. It shows us how bad slut shaming can be, because although all Lara Jean and Peter did in the hot tub was kiss, and the fact that Lara Jean was wearing PJs at the time, doesn’t matter to the internet – Lara Jean is shamed while Peter is rewarded, much the same as it is in real life.

Things start to really go downhill when Lara Jean finds Peter hanging out with Genevieve. With the appearance of John Ambrose McClaren in her life, both around school and at the nursing home she volunteers in, Lara Jean finds herself torn between Peter and John – until Peter shows to Lara Jean that Genevieve is a priority in his life and they break up.

With Peter still in her heart and a game of tag with whatever the winner wishes as a prize, Lara Jean is determined to win. But the win is bittersweet when she finds out what’s going on with Genevieve and when she stopped being friends with her. With interesting characters and real life situations, I enjoyed this book tremendously. A third book would be nice to wrap up a few things at the end, but I believe that Jenny Han said she wasn’t going to write another book with Lara Jean and co. Thought provoking, giggle inducing, this book was a fab read.


Recommend

If you liked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, you won’t be disappointed with this. If you liked Morgan Matson books, books like the DUFF and probably a few other contemporaries you’ll definitely enjoy PS I Still Love You!


Rating

I have given this a 5/5๐ŸŒŸ

Goodreads

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

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Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Series: ACOTAR, Book One
Read: 23rd December 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, YA, Romance, Retelling, Fairy Tale


Summary

FEYRE IS A HUNTRESS.
She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feelings for Tamlin begin to bur through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

FEYRE MUST FIND A WAY TO BREAK A SPELL, OR LOSE HER HEART FOREVER.


Review

Before I read this, I was told by a friend that she found it hard to get into the book at first. Now, that didn’t put me off getting the book and wanting to read it. So I went and I got it and as usual with me since I started doing up my room back at the end of the summer, I put it on my shelf and forgot about it for a while. Oops.

But then I was sorting my books out and I spotted it and I thought to myself, I’m going to read that. So I finished the book I was reading and dived straight into the world of ACOTAR after.

Feyre doesn’t hunt for sport. She hunts to survive, to keep her family alive. So when she kills the wolf that goes to kill the deer she spotted, she thinks nothing of it – after all, it couldn’t possibly be a Faerie, they don’t cross the boarder, haven’t since the treaty between the two races was made. She skins the wolf once it’s dead and takes it pelt along with the doe home to her family. Her sisters are not so grateful that she is so dirty, even after she has brought them food and her father is as quiet as ever; torn up and dejected ever since he lost his fortune and standing, he never stops Feyre from doing what she can and must to bring them food.

So when a creature comes to their house the next night to demand Feyre in return for killing his friend, the wolf, Feyre is understandably confused until it’s explained that the treaty requires a payment for an unprovoked attack on a Faerie.

Whisked away into the Faerie land of Prythian, Feyre must come to terms with living there for the rest of her life. Her family is looked after, making her promise to her Mother fulfilled, she is safe on Tamlin’s lands but she cannot leave. Thrust into the lap of luxury that she is in no way accustom to, Feyre finds it difficult to come to terms with the new path her life is going down. Between Tamlin and his cold front, Lucien and his straight up dislike and eventual friendship, Rhysand and his oddities, Feyre is never sure just how to take this land. Everything off Tamlin’s land is trying to kill her and everyone on Tamlin’s land wants her to see something she has no clue about.

Because the magic in Prythian is fading. A sickness, Feyre is told, has taken over the land and there isn’t much they can do about it. It’s why everyone in the Spring Court is wearing a mask, and has been wearing the same mask for the last 49 years. All Feyre can gleam from Tamlin is that she’s now in danger and she must leave. But by now, several months later, she has no desire to leave the Spring Court and wishes to stay with Tamlin. Without meaning to, she’s fallen in love with Tamlin, even if she can’t get the words out to tell him (although she certainly shows him). Sent back to the human word, Feyre finds that her family’s life is a lot different to the one they had when she left.

Convinced she had gone to look after a distant aunt on her deathbed, her sisters and father are surprised to see her return – she did not get any of their letters or send them any. Her oldest sister is suspicious, unwilling to let it drop because while her father and other sister have forgotten what happened that night, she hasn’t. Nesta knows what happened and she’s determined to find out just why Feyre has returned. And Feyre, upon realising that she’s completely in love with Tamlin and doesn’t really want a life without him, even if it is just her mortal one, sets off for Prythian to rejoin him.

But when she returns, the Spring Court is empty. Amarantha, the Faerie from Hybrin, has played her hand and now Feyre must go to her in order to get Tamlin back, and save the rest of Prythian.

To be fair, I did expect Amarantha to be an ass about her deal, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quiet so extreme. I should have, really, but the ending is sweet. We see what Rhysand’s motive for his actions were and we learn more about the curse that was forced upon Prythian. Feyre’s character development is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I can’t wait for the next one to be released and I’m glad I only have to wait until May!


Recommend

I would recommend this to readers at least fifteen and up. There are some parts that younger readers probably shouldn’t be reading (cover your innocent eyes!) but it is most definitely an amazing read. The world is built up and the characters are fleshed out. I won’t lie, I didn’t enjoy Throne of Glass all that much, but this has brought Sarah J Maas up a lot for me. If you liked Throne of Glass you will like this and I think if you liked the fairy tale retelling of Cinderella in Cinder that you’ll like this too.


Rating

I have given this book a 4/5๐ŸŒŸ

Goodreads

I apologise for any spelling mistakes, I don’t have the book on hand to check through!

 

Review: Firstborn

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Author: Lorie Ann Grover
Publisher: Blink
Read: 19th December 2015
Genre: Young Adult, YA, Fantasy, Fiction, Dystopia, Sci Fi


Summary

Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men?

When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn’t make a mistake by letting her live.

As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye in the community is on her. She desperately wishes to belong and finally be accepted. But at every step, traditional feminine gifts and traits emerge, and the bird she’s been twined with is seen as a sign of evil.

Worse, a Tiadone completes her rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend. Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to stand up to her despotic rules and uncover her real purpose in life.


Review

When I originally started reading this book, I found myself not liking it. The language was odd, the world wasn’t greatly explained and then there was the whole declared male thing because female children aren’t allowed to be the first born in the family. But then, as I kept reading, I got really in to it. Now, it is slightly clichรฉd in that a girl falls for her boy best friend but it’s immersed in the struggles of being a declared male, the oppression of the rulers and the need to carry out the tradition of living by the cliffs.

What? Cliffs? I’m getting ahead of myself slightly. This race, the R’tan, have a connection with the Rapion birds that live in the cliffs beside their village. When they are born, they offer up the baby’s placenta in exchange for an egg. The egg stays with them all through their lives and when they hatch they must care for the bird until they are old enough and big enough to fend for themselves with the rest of their kind. And the birds make no sound – they have no song and they do not cry out.

For Tiadone, he has been living as a boy his whole life. But, Tiadone was born a girl. He represses all his female urges and wishes desperately to not have these strange feelings towards his friend. When his Rapion egg hatches and bonds with him, he is thrilled – it has accepted his status as a male and it will prove him to his village. And then, his Rapion sings.

Tiadone becomes an outcast, his best friend walks away from him and he makes his way out to the traditional guarding post of the Perimeter in the valley of deserts by himself. Arriving late, he finds himself ostracised for his singing Rapion and paired up for duty with Ratho, his best friend, who still wants nothing to do with him. A series of events leads Tiadone to find his faith in the forbidden Creator Spirit which their oppressors, the Madronians, have replaced with their own religion. It also brings him Ratho, who sees Tiadone as both the declared male and the women he is. Bad luck strikes Ratho however, and he must return to the village before he can fully complete his year long service at the Perimeter.

For Tiadone, life becomes more and more confusing. He has been having visions, something that only females have. He sees his face turning his back on the Creator Spirit and the birth and rejection of his baby sister. Unable to stand that his father won’t declare her male like he did to Tiadone, once Tiadone is freed from Perimeter duty, mere hours after his sister is born, he decides to take his life into his own hands and does as he wishes his father had done – he leaves. Tiadone removes the amulet that declares him male and accepts the femininity that she has been pushing down. She finds her sister on the scree and vows to make a new life for them in the neighbouring lands.

To be honest, at the end I was left with a feeling of ‘that’s it?’ The idea is an excellent one and I have certainly never read a book like it before and did enjoy it.


Recommend

This is a very unique book and I can’t really recommend anything similar to it from the books that I’ve read. If you like thought provoking books, I think you’ll enjoy this book.


Rating

I have given this book a 3/5๐ŸŒŸ

Goodreads