Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Hello lovelies!

So, with a mere 10 hours to go, I managed to complete both the #read harder 2018 reading challenge and the Popsugar reading challenge 2018. This was after a particularly depressing comment made about a week ago where I realised that I still had two massive books left to read to finish both challenges. So, on the advice of the book blogging community I decided to forego the usual festive tv watching with my family and concentrate on reading instead. 

And I’ve done it. Yay!

I’ve either already reviewed each book, or I will do over the forthcoming weeks, but I thought I’d share a few highlights…

Top five books that I enjoyed the most
Oh, the Princess Bride by William Goldman. I just loved it. Everything about it was wonderful.

Elephant Moon by John Sweeney was a lush, tropical jem of a novel. Very British, very colonial, but still charming and exciting. Plus – baby elephants!

The Roanoak Girls by Amy Engel was a fabulous mixture of sadness, intrigue and suspense that had me hooked from the beginning.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey was brilliant, exciting and was difficult to put down. Despite not being a fan of horror, I absolutely loved this book (possibly because it’s not that scary). It ticked all the boxes for me.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu was an absolutely beautiful graphic novel. I wanted to frame every page and put it on my wall. Definitely one to savour/re-read.

Most surprising novel
Toast by Nigel Slater really shocked me, as I usually can’t stand his cookery programmes. I find there’s something intensely irritating about him. However, his memoir was beautiful, cleverly written and very touching. I fully expected to hate it but I actually really enjoyed it.

Most satisfying book
The Clan of the Cave Bear was a mammoth novel to tackle (and was also one that I left until half way through December to start). Luckily, it was very engaging and I whizzed through it.

Book that was furthest out of my comfort zone
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was a real test to see through to the end. Some parts made me feel physically sick. I don’t think I would have finished it if it hadn’t been part of the reading challenge – I’m kind of glad that I did though.

Novel that you loved, but no-one else seems to know about
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill was a wonderful book, but I don’t think many bloggers picked up on it. On the face of it, it’s not my thing at all – I suppose it would broadly be defined as romance – but it’s a great story with a magical element that I really enjoyed.

Most challenging category
I really struggled to find a book published by a micropress, but I eventually came across Nasty Women by various authors, a diverse collection of essays about what it’s like to be female in the 21st century. I loved reading about this topic from such different perspectives and would highly recommend it for it’s intersectional perspectives.

Most hilarious novel
The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is probably the funniest book I’ve ever read. A great recommendation if you’re feeling down and need a little pick me up.

Books that left a lasting impression on me
Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley actually made me get up and go for a jog. It also helped enormously with injuries, technical details about foot placement etc. It’s a great, funny book in it’s own right but it’s also a useful guide to anyone who runs.

Also, I defy anyone to read the poetry of Primo Levi and not be profoundly moved by it. His descriptions of the horror of the holocaust, his struggle to come to terms with what happened but his ultimate acceptance of the situation was actually life changing.

Least favourite books
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake was just sooooo dull. I didn’t get it at all. I have no idea why people think it’s brilliant.

The Hundred Lives of Lizzie Loveitt by Chelsea Sedoti seems to have been loved by lots of people, but I thought it was total rubbish. I’m probably too old to get it!

The Book of Mirrors by E. O. Chirovia was really badly written, despite having a great opening chapter. Avoid!

Book that introduced me to something new
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie taught me all about the civil war and the founding of Biafra, something that I knew literally nothing about. It’s obviously harrowing, but deeply moving and very engaging.

Book that made me want to read more in the series/from the same author
Again, the Clan of the Cave Bear was super engaging, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Ayla next.

Similarly, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami just keeps getting better. This year I read book two, and I can’t wait to get stuck into book three.

I would have said M.R. Carey, but I did read the subsequent novel to The Girl with all the Gifts (Fellside) and it was a complete let down. I believe there’s a prequel to The Girl with all the Gifts which I might read, but in all honesty the book was so great that I don’t want to ruin it.

So – did any of you complete any reading challenges this year? Do you agree/disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “Reading Challenge Wrap Up

  1. Whoo hoo! Congrats on finishing both of your challenges! I’m definitely interested in some of those books you mentioned. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews in the coming year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yay well done!!! And I have been meaning to read Princess Bride for *years*- I’m so glad you loved it! And of course I put Elephant Moon on my tbr thanks to your review- because what is not to like about baby elephants?!? And Roanoke Girls and Monstress are already on my tbr- they look amazing- so glad you liked them (Monstress looks so gorgeous just from the cover- glad the rest of it is as good) Oh my goodness- a friend of mine recommended Toast to me years ago in *the exact same way*- I’m not joking, they said they found him irritating in real life (I don’t actually know who he is) but that the book was beautiful- I guess I have to finally pick it up now then (and probably should have listened to my friend more 😉 ) Yeah, I had Lolita on my uni course so I had to finish it- I get what you mean about motivation, cos without that I would never have made it through- it was just so repulsive. Oh my goodness you’re so right about Titus Groan- totally remember your review about it as well 😉 Really well done on completing all of these!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you would like the Princess Bride. The title put me off for ages (I thought it would be a saccharine romance) but it isn’t at all. I really loved it.

      Haha I don’t know what it is about Nigel Slater but he’s like the male equivalent of Nigella Lawson – in his cookery shows he has a perfect kitchen, everything is decanted from Kilmer jars, they’ve tried to make it look like he buys his meat from an actual farmer instead of a supermarket…I thought he was smarmy and patronising (he says things like “what goes together grows together” which is such bullshit and literally only works for basil and tomatoes) but his book was so beautiful and really heartbreaking. Your friend was completely right!

      Yes Lolita was hard but on some level interesting – Titus Groan was just flat out dull. Haha I’m quite proud of that review, I’ll have to get more creative with my book review posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brilliant- hehe yeah I knew there’d be a bit more to it cos I’ve seen the film- have you seen that? If not, totally do, it’s amazing!!

        hahahaha I’m now just picturing the weirdest version of Nigella Lawson… and that is totally weird. hhahaha yes- I don’t think that rule actually works (not that I know much about it 😉 ) That’s great!! (also now I feel guilty for ignoring her 😉 )

        hehe well it was well written at least. And totally- you should be it was great!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t seen the film, no – I’ll have to watch it, especially as I’m a bit poorly at the mo (stupid cold/sore throat/high temp/swollen glands thing) so I have some spare time on my hands!

        Haha! You can literally grow anything next to anything. Trust me, I have an allotment. Aww your poor ignored friend! I’m sure she won’t mind, I’m always recommending books to people that don’t take up my suggestions. I only read it because it was a reading challenge category that I was struggling to fill.

        *blushes* thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh definitely watch it! So sorry to hear you’re ill (but it is the perfect film to watch then 😉 )

        hehe well that’s cool!! hahaha she’s used to me ignoring half her recs, to be honest, she reads more than I do, I can’t keep up 😉 And I’m also used to people missing half my recommendations.

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

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