2014 Reading: #32 John Hart’s Down River

Book number 32 was John Hart’s Down River. This book is from my Mount TBR challenge – it has been sitting on my shelf for a few years…

I think I had been putting off reading this novel in case I found it scary (yep, I’m a wuss…!) however, I wish I hadn’t put this book off, I really enjoyed it! It was fast-paced and well written. I didn’t guess the murderer and was gripped until the end. I thought this was a really good book and have now given it to my Mum to read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Crime
Published: 2007
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Most Abandoned Books

I was flicking through Facebook the other day and came across this:

What an interesting list. So for me…

Top 5 Most Abandoned Books:

The Casual Vacancy – started on holiday in May, not finished it yet. I haven’t abandoned it, I just haven’t picked it up for a few weeks
Fifty Shades of Grey – not started and not interested
Eat, Pray, Love – not started. I have thought about reading this book a few times but never actually done it
Wicked – finished! The review is here. Not a great read but I did make it through. And yes…I read it because I had seen the show, and yes, it is nothing like the show!
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – not started it. My Mum read it and said I wouldn’t like it, so I haven’t gone near it.

Top 5 Most Abandoned Classics:

Catch-22 – I own this book, but not started it. My husband started it a couple of years ago and hasn’t finished it yet…
The Lord of the Rings – I have read all three books! I did put The Two Towers down and pick it back up several months later, and yes there were a difficult read, but I am pleased to say I have read them
Ulysses – not started it
Moby Dick – not started it
Atlas Unplugged – not started it

…to be honest, I don’t read many classics!

How about you? Have you abandoned any of the above books?

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-abandoned-books-list-on-goodreads-2013-7

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The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Santa Montefiore

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and her future – that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…
Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He’s wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him.
Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago…

I received this book from Netgalley and Simon and Schuster UK Fiction to post an honest review.

I loved this book! I had been jumping between books, trying to find one that kept my attention, and this is the book. I found the beginning of the book, where we focus on Trixie and her new-found love, Jasper, a bit slow, but as soon as we jumped back to 1932 I was hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. I have never read a novel by Santa Montefiore before, but I will certainly be looking out for more books by her.

This story is set in three time periods – the 1930s, the 1970s and the 1990s. I really enjoy a book which moves around in time and focuses on more than one character – and this is just that sort of book. The focus of the book is on a mother and daughter – Grace and Trixie, and the way love can join them in a story neither of them would have imagined. I just loved the way this book was written. There were characters I liked, and one’s I didn’t, I loved the locations and I loved the history.

This is a great story. Grace grows up in a small community as the bee keeper’s daughter. She knows her destiny, and is happy with it. But she falls in love with two men, one far out of her reach and social standing – but war changes everything. After the war, she relocates to America with her husband Freddie, with no explanation. They have Trixie and but life isn’t as happy as it could be. Trixie is a rebellious girl, who likes to fall in love and break the rules. She falls for Jasper, a young English musician, but when he has to return to Britain, her heart is broken. Neither Grace nor Trixie truly recover from their heart break, but it isn’t until much later that they realise how entwined their stories are.

I liked Grace, but I didn’t really like Trixie. Grace was gentle, caring and kind. She loved her father and worked hard. Trixie was headstrong and I found her a bit disrespectful towards her parents. They both made decisions and choices I wasn’t sure about, but that didn’t spoil the book for me. I like it when I can think about decisions, even disagree (I even like disliking characters!), I feel it enhances the book if it doesn’t go the way I expect/would have written it.

There is a lot in this book – love, family, friendship, bee keeping and war, but this is essentially chick-lit at it’s best. I am rating this 4 out of 5 as there were some scenes I found crude and unnecessary but I did enjoy this book so much. As I have said, I didn’t want to put this book down. There were some surprises, some things which made me chuckle, and just a really great story.

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2014 Reading: #31 Santa Montefiore’s The Bee Keeper’s Daughter

Book 31 was Santa Montefiore’s The Bee Keeper’s Daughter, which I received from Netgalley.

I really enjoyed this book! I thought the beginning was a little slow but once the story took off, I couldn’t put the book down. There were some surprises, some story lines which didn’t come as a shock and some decisions I didn’t agree with, yet I was hooked. I preferred Grace’s story to Trixie’s but I liked how they were linked and I enjoyed moving around in time. This was a really enjoyable book and I hope to read more by Montefiore.

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

Delirium

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this novel. I’d had it on my Kindle for a while and then a friend mentioned how good it was and I thought, “OK, I must read that book.” To be honest, it wasn’t what I thought it would be like. I guess I imagined it would be like the Divergent series, or the Hunger Games trilogy – a novel with action and war. In some ways, it was similar to those trilogies as it is a dystopia novel, but that seemed to be where the similarity ended. It was more a love story than anything else. I found the beginning slow and the romance a bit dull – although the ending was good. It took a while to get going. I expected more danger in the book and didn’t get it until the last few pages. Although this wasn’t a bad book, it didn’t live up to my expectation of it.

The characters didn’t stick out in my mind much either. I could take them or leave them – except perhaps Grace, Lena’s mute cousin, who was so sweet. Her role at the end of the novel was amazing! I liked Lena, and her best friend Hana, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly special about them.

Having been quite critical about this book, I did enjoy it enough to get the second book out the library.

Pandemonium

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

I enjoyed Pandemonium a lot more than Delirium. Lena has escaped from Portland and the dystopia society that she was living in. Here, there are no rules, no set homes and out here, you are the enemy. This novel contained a lot more of what I expected in the first book. There is action, fear and danger. Lena is fighting for a cause, healing a broken heart, and of course, falling in love again. I thought Pandemonium had a lot more interesting content than Delirium. It was more exciting and much more gripping. Lena finds herself trapped and fighting to survive, there were new characters and a completely new way of life that Lena has to learn to adjust too.

Oddly, I disliked Lena more in this book than I did in the first one! Taken out of her safe home, she is fearful and grumpy. She acts like a sulky teenager a lot in this novel. I did like Raven though, a fearless leader, and Tack, her side-kick. I also liked Blue – who was a lot like Grace – and like with Grace, I found myself feeling so sad for Blue.

There is a predictable cliff hanger at the end of Pandemonium, yet it was brilliant! This book left me wanting more, so it was good news that there is a third book in this series!

Requiem

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Requiem is written differently to the first two books in this trilogy. This time, the novel follows both Lena in the Wilds, and Hana in Portland, about to get married. Hana has been cured, Lena has not. They are no longer friends or connected in any way, in fact, they barely think of each other. Yet their lives will become entwined again.

This book had a lot of promise and started so well, yet I found that by halfway I was ready for the story to move on. It started to drag, and felt like it was repeating itself. Again, like Delirium, this book was also a big love story – who would Lena chose? There were revelations in this book and I did enjoy jumping between Lena and Hana, but I did think it took too long for the final climax to happen. I also felt that the ending was rushed. I was left asking questions, and I hate that in a book!

The Delirium Series
I did enjoy this series, I just didn’t like it as much as the Divergent series or the Hunger Games series. I was hoping for more from this book than I got. Reflecting on the series, there isn’t anyone that stands out and I still find it annoying that the ending was so abrupt. I would rate this series 3 out of 5 because it was good, it just wasn’t what I expected, and at times I felt the books were similar and I wanted the stories to move on.

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2014 Reading: #30 Enid Blyton’s Go Ahead, Secret Seven

Book number 30 in 2014 (only 10 more books to go in my Goodreads challenge…!) was Enid Blyton’s Go Ahead, Secret Seven. This is also a challenge read, I am hoping to have read all 15 Secret Seven books by the end of the year. So, 10 more of those to go too!

I read this book in one sitting, in just a couple of hours. I loved it! These are such a fun series. I still don’t like the leader, Peter, but other than that, this was a good read. It was quick, fast paced, and enjoyable. This book included spies, dogs and cellars. I do enjoy being transported back to childhood adventures and for a little while being lost in this secret society, wrapped up in their adventures.

Addition: Paper back
Genre: Children
Published: 1953
Rating: 4 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #29 Lauren Oliver’s Requiem

Book number 29 was the final book in the Delirium trilogy, Requiem, by Lauren Oliver.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this book. I wasn’t too excited by Delirium, the first book, but did really enjoy Pandemonium, book two. I was eager to start reading Pandemonium, and the for a while was really enjoying it. However, I did find that around halfway through the book I was ready for the story to move on. Like Delirium, I found the end of the book the most exciting. I did enjoy this novel, but not as much as I enjoyed Pandemonium.

Addition: Library book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #28 Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Book number 28 was another book off my 2014 TBR Challenge: Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?

I massively struggled with this book. I’ve read it slowly over 6 months because I found the writing didn’t flow very well. I had high hopes for this book, having been told just how great it is, but I found it such a difficult read. The topic of the book, God’s grace, is an amazing, breath-taking topic, but I didn’t find myself in awe reading book, I just found myself struggling to finish it. I’ve rated it 3 out of 5 because the only downside to this book is the writing – God’s grace is amazing!!

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Published: 1997
Rating: 3 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #27 Katharine McMahon’s The Crimson Rooms

Book number 27 is Katharine McMahon’s The Crimson Rooms. This isn’t the first novel by McMahon that I have read. Back in 2008 I read The Rose of Sebastopol, which I remember enjoying.

I’ve had The Crimson Rooms on my shelf for a while. This wasn’t part of my TBR Challenge, but I thought I should read it anyway! To be honest, I was surprised at how long it took me. I did read other books alongside it, although I always do that, however I did find this a slow read. I did enjoy this book, but I did have to concentrate and set time aside for it. I did enjoy this glimpse into history though and have in fact given my Mum this book to read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2009
Rating: 3 out of 5

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2014 Reading: #26 Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium

Book number 26 in 2014 was Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium. This is the second book in the Delirium trilogy.

I’m not sure this has ever happened to me before, but I must admit, I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed Delirium. I found this book to have more action – I felt there was more of a storyline. I thought Delirium was a simple love story, whereas this book focused more on challenging what society was teaching. I read this book in a matter of days, I really enjoyed it. And of course, the cliff hanger! I wasn’t surprised by it but enjoyed it! Book number 3 was reserved from the library as soon as I finished Pandemonium.

Addition: Library book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5

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