Sunday, January 3, 2016

Books I have Read Last Year

Happy new year! It's a good start of the year for me, only three days in and I'm already halfway through a really nice book. My goal is to read more books this year than I did in 2015. For some, this may not be at all challenging but it is for me, what's with being a mom to a 2-year old girl and my craft projects. Last year, my goal was to read at least 20 books and luckily I was able to finish 25. 

Oh, I remember the time when I was still single and in my 20's, right after work I would just go straight home, have dinner, watch TV, and cap off the night with a good book. I could finish at least five books in a month then.

I'm not a fashionista reader or one who's always updated with what's on the month's bestseller list, I'm still actually catching up with a few classics so I couldn't keep up with the new most recommended books. These classics usually are required reads in grade school or high school in the US and other countries but not here in the Philippines or at least when I was still in school, not sure if it's different now. Anyway, I remember having to read only a few of Shakespeare's and Edgar Allan Poe's works. 

This is my short list. Most were read on my iPad and Kindle, a few are audiobooks I've listen to from my phone, and also a few, I've had the pleasure of reading by holding actual books in my hand. There won't be much of a review here as I've said these books are not relatively new and most are already widely reviewed specially the classics, I'll just say if I enjoyed the books or not.

1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This is my sister's book, just a so-so for me to be honest. The plot is good though a bit unoriginal, you know, kids with powers or special abilities living together in a safe place, but it's not a problem for me, and the flow of the story is okay, too, a little uneventful for its genre but I understand because it's intended to be a series, just a thumbs down for those parts that I could already guess what happens next without even trying and knowing who is and what is before the revelation. Getting that feeling of surprise or relief and excitement is something I always look for in a fantasy book. But, I'm still planning to read the next book, Hollow City, to check out the characters' next adventures so I think this is still a good 2.5 - 3 out of 5 stars.

2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger - If you like chick flicks or at least occasionally watch one, you have probably watched the movie version of this starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci. This is one of those rare moments that I can say that the film adaptation is better than the book, way, way better than the book. Hollywood did a fairly great job turning this into a good movie, well, for me. The idea is there, having a dragon lady for a boss, the demands in the fashion world, and whatnot but there is a much needed fine tuning in this novel in my opinion which the movie did so kudos to the one in charge of the screenplay. I was actually surprised I got to finish the book. Let's just say that I'm thankful I only got it for cheap from a secondhand bookshop. 

3. The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
4. The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore - The Fall of Five and The Revenge of Seven are the fourth and fifth books in the Lorien Legacies, respectively. I already have the next one which was released last year but still haven't got the chance to read it yet. I must say that these books are actually good, eventful and there's always something new in every book, I'm talking about the whole series here. These are in ebook form.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Ah, now I know why this is a critically acclaimed classic. It's probably on your reading list when you were in school but it wasn't on mine so forgive me if I'm a bit late here and have just read it last year, and yes I'm already in my 30's. Great plot, great characters and even if this was set in the early 1930's, this is the kind of novel that people can still relate to up to this day, well, maybe that's why it's a classic. I just love how easy it was to read, like if I didn't have anything important to do I could have finished it in one sitting. Still I was able to finish it in a fairly short time considering I have a daughter calling me every minute or so to show me something or for no reason at all, and I would always gladly indulge her to do so. I always lower my expectations when starting on a book so I get to appreciate it more or not get disappointed when a friend raves about a book and it turns out to be a train wreck but with this, I kinda have a very high expectation as I always see it on top of almost every recommended books list and I'm glad to say that I enjoyed it very much, there's enough humor thrown in even if it's about a real serious subject.

6. Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella - This is one of the books in Kinsella's Shopaholic series and I honestly don't know why I read it. I've read one before because the first book was made into a movie so naturally, I got curious and it just turned out to be a disappointment. I found some reviews that it was funny so I was ready to have a good laugh but it was just annoying for me, not funny at all and I must say I'm the kind of person who laughs at the silliest jokes. So I was surprised at myself that I read another one from the series but wasn't surprised at all that it's the same as the first one, still the same protagonist, Becky, doing stupid things, I don't know how she still always end up in a favorable situation after all those blunders. I think the writer is trying to make her character light and funny but failing completely, Becky just appears to be stupid, careless, and insensitive to others' feelings and she's supposed to be educated, well-connected with the right people, and was raised in a good environment. So, I don't know how a normal adult person would ship a sand castle from a different part of the world to UK and expect it to arrive there in great shape or make a will bequeathing a list of specific accessories and apparels to a few different persons and contact the law firm to amend the will several times and be surprised upon receiving charges for the services, I mean, come on. These are from the other book I've read, though, not from this one, but still, almost the same style. So just 1 star out of 5.

7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - This is an enjoyable read, with good humor in all the right places. If you want to take a break from dark fantasies or thrillers, this is a great book to read. This was also turned into a movie and it's equally funny. 

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Another book that I always find on almost every list of most recommended books and rightly so. It is another one of those easy to read books, not the fast-paced unputdownable type, just very smooth and interesting to keep your eyes glued on its pages. It is set in Germany during the World War II and focuses on the life of a little girl and her experiences and surroundings. It's intended for young adult readers but I enjoyed it just the same.

9. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery - This is another one of the classic books that's in my to-read list for a long time and I'm glad that it's one of the first books I've crossed out. It's a children's book but I really enjoyed it. The main character, Anne Shirley, is very talkative but not at all annoying, she's actually really funny and like the other characters in the book, I also loved her for being imaginative, talkative and silly at times.

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - This is a favorite among female readers and a well loved classic and I really wanted to love it but sadly I didn't love it as much as most people do. I understand the love and appreciation of female readers and their fascination for Mr. Darcy, the book is well written and engaging enough for me to hate and love some of the characters. Maybe the romance genre just isn't my cup of tea.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott
11. The Alchemyst
12. The Magician
13. The Sorceress
14. The Necromancer
15. The Warlock
16. The Enchantress - I've found out about this series when I was looking for books recommended for Harry Potter fans. It was one of those with good reviews so I went ahead and got it. I have the ebook form and the audiobook. I started out with the ebook first but I have a craft project I needed to finish so I just opted to listen to the audiobook version of the series so I could work on my project and listen at the same time which worked for me just fine except that there were a few character names and terms that are not familiar to me and sounded unusual so I have to check the right spelling, not necessary, I know, but I'm a bit OC with things like that so I had to look them up. I was hesitant to read it at first because it has 6 books and it would probably take long to finish but I'm glad that I did. I enjoyed it, there were flaws in the characters' behaviors and a few holes in the story but it's so eventful and fast paced that those minor issues can easily be overlooked. The mixture of mythological and historical figures in the story is a good touch.

17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I have mixed feelings about this, it was a smooth read for me, entertaining even but I was left thinking to myself, well, is that it? It's simple yet deep and a lot of people probably can relate to the main character, Holden, I don't though as I didn't have the luxury to be that way when I was a teenager. I listened to the audiobook version of this and I enjoyed it very much, I loved that it was read with feelings and conviction.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
18. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
19. Prince Caspian
20. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
21. The Silver Chair
22. The Horse and His Boy
23. The Magician's Nephew
24. The Last Battle - I got this book from a secondhand bookshop a few years ago. It has all the seven volumes arranged in chronological order based on the story but I read them in order of the dates they were published. It is a well-loved fantasy book series and I can see why, it's magical and full of adventures and I would have probably enjoyed it more if I've read this when I was a kid. It's really more of a fantasy for children, wouldn't even recommend it to young adults. It's good and I admire Lewis' rich imagination and storytelling ability but like I said it's not for adults like me, it's not the same as those books that kids and adults alike would love, well, maybe it's just me.

25. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom - Another book I got from a secondhand bookshop a long time ago and just got around to reading it recently. I just wanted to take a break from reading fiction so I picked it up. Okay, so I respect Morrie and his outlook in life and also his view on death, I also believe that this book is inspiring to a lot of people and that's great but it's dragging for me to be honest. I find it overly dramatic and sentimental. My apologies to those who love the book.

So, those are the books I was able to finish last year. I did reread the Harry Potter series but I won't count it, I do it every year, anyway. I'm looking forward to more books to read and more worlds to unlock.

"Why reach for the stars when you can reach for a book and have the stars, the sun, and the moon."

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