Reading Challenge: A Summary of The Books I’ve Read This Year

14. Read More

I have met my reading challenge for this year! My goal was to read twice as much as I did last year, which honestly wasn’t much. I only read five books last year and this year I have read ten! I’m pretty proud! I stumbled upon booktok though and I realized that most people read that in a month?! How insane. Filled with annotations and everything! I don’t even really know how to annotate a book. I just like to do it recreationally in my spare time. I have left some reviews of the books that I have read this year! Some full on highlights that I realized how to do on my kindle this year! e

I have been using Goodreads to track my reading challenges over the past couple of years. Goodreads is a website/app that allows readers to access a database of books. You can do so much on this site. I started it because I was looking for good book recommendations and in the process I started to realize that you have access to so much more. You are allowed to keep track on what books your reading, what books you’ve read and what books you want to read. Then, it gives you recommendations based on those three topics. You’re also allowed to select categories that you would like to follow and be updated on. It gives you notifications like: Popular this week in Thriller or whatever kind of books you are into! It’s really amazing. It even gives you access to things such as book reviews, annotations and quotes.

Goodreads can be linked to your Facebook account and you can even have friends on there. Perfect for book club or just to see what your friends are reading!

I love reading but in the past I haven’t really made that much time for it. Last year I gave myself a reading challenge of twenty five books. That’s about two books a month which I thought was reasonable but I was so graciously let down… I read five… Five whole books for the year of 2020 which I thought I would have more time to accomplish with the world shutting down and all.

But this year, this year I thought more reasonably. I just really wanted to outdo what I did the year before. So I made my reading challenge ten. I could totally do ten books, right? And I did.

I was going to try to do this in a particular order but I decided to just do it in the way that I read them.

1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. (5/5) **TW: self harm**

This book was written by the same author who wrote the book Gone Girl that turned into an amazing movie. This book, this book was incredibly written. This is certainly considered a dark psychological thriller. It was so dark, almost disturbing. Definitely deserves a trigger warning as it includes misery and self harm and just overall helplessness that the main character feels and describes so deeply.

The protagonist- Camille Preaker- is a twenty-three year old journalist who travels back to the small town of her youth to report on the murders of two young girls – girls who had had all of their teeth removed. At just thirteen Camille’s sister died and fueled by grief and trauma she spends most of her teen years carving words into her flesh, covering almost every inch of her body with the marks of her pain.

As she returns to this small town she soon becomes engulfed in it, she tries to get a long with a mother who doesn’t love her and establish a relationship with a hellian of a half-sister who she barely knows. She falls deeper and deeper into the investigation , her fragile state of mind constantly threatening to tip her over the edge because as we all have came to know small towns hold the biggest secrets.

Flynn never shies away form the horrific details in this story. It’s deep and dark and simply eerie. I give is five out of five stars because it was so well written and the plot twist at the end really shocked me.

It’s even now a television series on HBO but I have yet to watch it because the book itself was mind warping enough.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (5/5)

After a dark book like Sharp Objects I decided to do something a little more lighter. This book has always been highly recommended to me. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from peers and those close to me. I was really excited to finally read it because it had been on my Want To Read list for a long time.

This book is a gentle, easy read but it touches so many parts of us. It is a book of survival, hope, love, loss, loneliness, prejudice. I didn’t realize how sad it would be only to soon be uplifting and hopeful.

Kya was a young girl when her mother walked away, never to return. Soon after, her siblings followed suit. She was so young in fact that she soon even forgot their names. She was left behind with her often absent father who was a drunk and abusive. She is left to care for their home, to cook, clean and take care of both of their needs. Her situation pulled on my heartstrings, to be stuck with having to learn to shop, to cook, to provide food for herself all while dealing with loneliness and feelings of abandonment.

Their shack of a home was located in the marsh, on the outskirts of a town where everyone looked at her like she was a dirty and treated her as such.

As Kya grows and learns more about life through her interactions with the marsh and the creatures in it she meets two boys who both impact her life. One is an old friend of her brothers named Tate who is patience and kind. He teaches her to read and other things that most kids would have learned in school. Where she tried to go once but only felt outcasted. He shows her acceptance and happiness. Another brings her hope for the future but wont introduce her to to his friends and family. Could one be her chance at happiness? A chance at being loved? Or will history repeat itself?

In 1969, local football legend Chase Andrews is found dead. Rumors swirl around about motive and possible suspects. Rumors also have been circulating about him and The Marsh Girl for years. Could she be the killer? What motive could she have?

This book touches on a lot of different categories that I love. Murder mystery, romance, coming of age, drama and super likable main character. I fell in love with this book and how it was written. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

3. Forever Ours by Cassia Leo (Shattered Hearts #1) 3/5

I started reading this book with my friend because she highly recommended the author. It is a light romance story almost written in an overview format. The book was written over the course of two years and the ending just didn’t seem to fit well with the book. It didn’t really have any substance to it in my opinion.

It started off from the perception of one of the main characters, Claire Nixon, who lost her mother to a drug overdose at a young age and found herself in and out of foster homes. Until she finally comes to this one. She meets her new foster brother, Chris, who is kind and patient and everything she needs to feel at home. It walks through their relationship and how it develops over time.

It wasn’t until afterwards, when I read the reviews on it and started reading the next book in the series, Relentless, that I realized this book was a prequel to the others. It was written after the original series came out. It gave a background to the characters relationship development that isn’t covered in the rest of the series. It overlaps and follows what is described later in the series but it didn’t make sense to me until I followed through.

I read this book on the Kindle app which gave me a sample into the next book in the series and I soon caught myself falling into the story for Relentless. I gave the book a 3/5 mainly for the developmental purposes and the fact I was confused on why this was the first book in the series.

4. Relentless by Cassia Leo (#2 Shattered Hearts) 5/5

This is where the story gets good. This is where it started heating up for me.

“The relentless pull of love is a thousand times harder to fight than the tides. If you’re lucky, you’ll make it out before you drown. If you’re even luckier, you’re pulled under just long enough to wash away the sorrow. If you’re really lucky, like me, you resurface just in time to find the only you love floating right next to you.” -Claire

This book is about a lost girl, Claire Nixon, who is trying to find her way through the tough life she had been dealt. She had a terrible family history. No mother or never knew her father which kept her raised in the broken care system for most of her young life. She battled with the loss of her first love and is now faced with the possibility of a new love while she’s still in the process of healing herself. Not to mention she is dealing with the haunting feeling of a big secret she kept back in Raleigh. The reason who she dropped out of college. The reason why she moved so far away.

There was something about this story that pulled me in. The writing was beautiful and the way Cassia described the emotions just touched the hopeless romantic in me. It’s a story of love and learning to let go and cope with life in the best way. The book is written in each of the main characters perspective allowing you to get a well rounded view of the situation and why each characters acted and reacted the way that they did.

Claire is so heavily filled with guilt and what she done to the love of her life, Chris Knight, that she has to meditate several times a day to cope. Claire met Chris when she was going through a rough time in the foster care system and she finally reaches her final foster home with him and his mother. He slowly becomes her lifeline and home. Chris is in the story briefly not really making it a love triangle but you can tell he made a huge impact in her life and history.

A year after their break up Claire finds herself on the run from the great mistake that haunts her and makes her feel shameful . She then meets Adam who is also running from some pretty big secrets himself and they instantly connect. Their past almost pulling them together like magnets. I fell in love with Adam in this book. He has a heart of gold and is painted to be a sexy, super sweet surfer guy. They are forced to face the reality of love and trust and wonder if their love is strong enough to let their walls down.

The ending though, not quite a cliffhanger but definitely open ended in the sense that you have to read more in order to see if Adam and Claire can get through these bumps in the road.

I gave it a five out of five because it was just so lovely. I highlighted so many quotes in this because the words were so beautiful. A light read romance series.

5. Pieces of You by Cassia Leo (Shattered Hearts #3)

The main reason why I felt so pulled to read more of this series is because the back of the book gives you the little snippet into the next one and there were just simply some questions I needed answers to. The highly anticipated secret comes out at the end of the first book.

Pieces of You starts off right where Relentless ended. Both guys are in love with her. Claire trying to deal with her secret falling out. Both guys are will do any and everything to win her heart and make her choose one of them. This time it’s Adam’s turn to leave. He has to go to Hawaii for a surfing competitions and something wedges in between their love.

I started out thinking I really wanted Claire with Adam. He’s been there for her, they pulled each other out of the funk they both were in, and they truly fell in love with each other.

Then Rockstar Chris and his sexy, tattoo’s and piercings snuck in to try to win back her love. At first he was annoying but just as I suspected he snuck back into her heart. Then again they have history, so I guess he never really left.

It wasn’t until about 45% in the story that I had a hard time choosing which guy I thought would be best for Claire. It drove me bonkers, reading one chapter with Claire, the next with Chris and the next with Adam. It almost put me on emotional overload. I was swooning one minute and irritated the next.

The other thing that had me emotional was the secret. I couldn’t stop crying whilst reading about it and the consequences. The emotion of it all is so tangible. It’s probably the thing that annoys me the most about this series but in a weird, emotional way, it’s also the thing I love the most; it’s probably what makes the story that much greater!

“Sometimes, the lies we tell ourselves are more destructive than the truth we hide from others.”

6. Midnight Sun by Stephanie Myer

I, just like most girls I believe, read the Twilight series when it came out or right before the movies were announced to come to theaters. I loved the twilight series as a pre-teen. The fantasy aspect of it, the deep devoted love among the characters. The story line, all of it. It was a great story. I wish some of the characters had different endings… but overall if was a good saga to me!

This book gave me nostalgia. It reminded me of reading those books so long ago. The story line is the same but it is told in a different perspective. Edwards perspective. And for me, if gave Edwards character far more depth and even went into his history and Carlisle’s history as well. You get to peak into his powers and how they actually work. There were parts of it that was cringy and weird but it was really interesting how it all played out in his immortal mind. I’m not the type to get cynical or fact checker when it comes to fictional stories so some part of this book that other people didn’t like doesn’t seem to phase me as much. Yeah, he was controlling and came of misogynistic, but he’s a monster. Not at all human and to hold him to human standards would be wrong if you ask me.

I’m not saying there aren’t any flaws within the story line but I really do appreciate the book for what it was and the parts of the gaps that it fills in, in the saga!

7. The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne

This was the first book I read on my kindle app. It was free with kindleunlimited and recommended so I got it on a whim. It sat in there for a while before I actually got into it.

Sloan is a part time officer in the Lauderdale Shores Police force, working as a recovery diver. On a recreational dive in a canal, she surfaces to find the body of a dead woman having just been dumped. As the niece of a convicted drug trafficker, she soon finds herself a suspect in the eyes of the police. At the same time, she’s being hunted by those behind the crime, which seems to be tied to a large sum of missing cartel money.

This was a really interesting mystery novel that is actually part of a series! I just didn’t read the second book. I loved every part of this book from the colorful characters and how they were all connected and brought together and the intriguing storyline. Mayne had a wonderful way of making all of this story feel so real, I almost wondered if it actually happened.

8. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This book was so captivating from the moment I started reading it. It made me fall in love with reading all over again. It was so beautifully written. I’m not going to lie I didn’t go into this book knowing what it was about. Only that it was well reviewed and highly recommended. I knew within the first page of this book that it was going to make a lasting impression on me and the more I dived into it the more I knew I was going to leave me heartbroken. There are so many quotes that I could rave about. That left me speechless. I was in awe of the gorgeous descriptions. I felt the love, the rage, the pain of losing someone.

Madeline Miller definitely has a way with words and I loved how this story was written: Poetical with a lot of mythological facts and with so many details that it succeeded to make this a more than just intriguing journey.

What I loved the most was how she managed to convey Achilles’ and Patroclus relationship though. Even though she never went into detail, never actually let them say that they loved each other; it was still palpable in every single moment they shared together. Those moments were so precious I couldn’t get enough of them and all I wanted was for them to be happy.

Based on my knowledge of reek mythology I knew how it would end. Still, the sense of foreboding in this book! Oh gosh, it killed me!! All those little hints piled up and up and up until all I was able to feel was dread! By the end of the book I was reduced to a sobbing and crying nervous wreck and the final sentence was like a dagger in my heart.

“I saw then how I had changed. I did not mind anymore that I lost when we raced and I lost when we swam out to the rocks and I lost when we tossed spears or skipped stones. For who can be ashamed to lose to such beauty? It was enough to watch him win, to see the soles of his feet flashing as they kicked up sand, or the rise and fall of his shoulders as he pulled through the salt. It was enough.”

“I conjure the boy I knew. Achilles, grinning as the figs blur in his hands. His green eyes laughing into mine. Catch, he says. Achilles, outlined against the sky, hanging from a branch over the river. The thick warmth of his sleepy breath against my ear. If you have to go, I will go with you. My fears forgotten in the golden harbor of his arms. The memories come, and come. She listens, staring into the grain of the stone. We are all there, goddess and mortal and the boy who was both.”

”They grinned, loving every inch of their miraculous prince: his gleaming hair, his deadly hands, his nimble feet. They leaned towards him, like flowers to the sun, drinking in his lustre. It was as Odysseus had said: he had light enough to make heroes of them all.”

9. The Sun Will Rise and So Will We by Jennae Cecelia

I don’t really have much to say about this book unfortunately. A great little read of poems on motivation, truth, positivity, self love and survival. I would recommend for everyone, but especially if you are struggling with mental health.. I think this could do a lot for someone who needed it. Picking it up to read a couple on the bad days but reading it through just didn’t really do much for me. I loved it but some of the poems appeared to be repetitive to me. Overall there were enjoyable moments and comforting words but as a whole I just felt as if I was reading a collection of inspirational quotes.

This was the first book I read by this author and I’m definitely going to read more of her works.

“But just remember for every memory lost, there are always new ones to make.”

“The sun will rise again and so will we. Things will get greener. Things will get warmer. Everything will grow again and so will we.”

“I am growing. I have so much to gain. From the hilltops with sunrises and the fieldswith sunsets. I am watching as I grow and the earth does too. We are all growing right now, even if it is into something unexpected. It is the growth that helps us bloom.

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Yes, I read another Gillian Flynn book. I read it for the month of October to get myself in the spooky season mood and oh my goodness, did this deliver.

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

This book was dark. Which I don’t know why I expected anything different from Flynn. Flynn sure does love to write about messed up people and this book took the cake. It was twisted and suspenseful. It had me of the edge of my seat for majority of the book. This author knows how to stretch the creep-factor to its limits, just short of over-the-top, delivering a crazy, yet still fathomable plot. She masters the art of description until the details begin materializing, and suddenly you’re visualizing them whether you’re trying to or not.

Libby Day is the main character in this book. What a character. So mentally deranged and cynical.

Libby’s family was brutally murdered in their home, but little seven-year old Libby somehow survived the gruesome massacre. Largely due to Libby’s testimony, her wallflower brother becomes tried and convicted for these satanic murders.

Now Libby is a grown woman who is beginning to question the details of that fateful night long ago. A night she has buried deep inside, desperate to forget. But there are things that refuse to be forgotten…

She links up with a really strange group of crime junkies that spend their free time discussing and solving famous murders. They offer to pay her for some intel on who really committed the murders, convinced that her brother is innocent.

I spent a lot of the time reading this trying to decipher who did it. Just when I was convinced it was one person some other evidence would come up and it would make me second guess my thought. The ending was a little strange but it made sense for sure!

So those are my 10 books that I am reviewing for this year! I am still reading more and hopefully will go way over my goal which means more reading for the year 2022!

Do any of these book seem to peak your interest? Have you read any of them before? Let me know in the comments!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Youv’e read a lot of books here which are on my radar. I have a copy of Midnight Sun but I haven’t touched it yet, I’ll admit, I’m a little intimidated!

    Like

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