Top Ten Reads of 2013 (so far)! and 30 Day Read Updates

So first off, I’d like to say that although I don’t want to quit the 30 Day Reading Challenge, I haven’t actually been able to read that much so far because of various events, including going to the Warner Bros: The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour which I will definitely be doing a blog post on soon! Because of that and family visits and such I’m only 420 pages through ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ by J.K.Rowling, taking my total to 986. That means that I’m over a thousand pages behind, so I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up but I’m going to change to 100 pages a day rather than the 200. That means that I’m only 114 pages behind so hopefully (fingers crossed!) I’ll be able to manage 3000 pages over the 30 Day Challenge.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is my Top Ten Reads of 2013 so far! These are in no particular order but I think that it’s a good way to look back on what you’ve already read and reflect on your feelings towards those books.

The first book I would like to mention is ‘Clockwork Angel’ by Cassandra Clare and is one that I was originally very reluctant to read because of the hype and the amount of people that were saying that it is the best book series they’ve read. I eventually got round to reading it, and I have to say, I absolutely loved it. Although I found some of the characters irritating, the world that Cassandra Clare created was unlike anything else I’ve read. I’m not one of the people that instantly fell in love with Will Herondale, I actually didn’t like him at all, but I think that some of the characters, especially Henry, added a quirky personality to the book. Steampunk isn’t something that I’ve experienced a lot of and the way that this book  explored that genre made for a gripping, action-packed read that I just couldn’t put down. There wasn’t a dull moment and the book itself, in hardback, is absolutely beautiful.

Thinking back on ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ by Patrick Ness which I read right at the beginning of the year, I remember it as being engaging throughout most of it, and I really don’t understand why I haven’t read the sequel yet. I usually don’t like cliffhanger endings but in this book, it really worked. Todd Hewitt, the protagonist, was very likeable and I love how the reader discovers more about this world as Todd does. The format of the actual book worked perfectly, the use of different fonts really added to the effect that the Noise has on the characters and made it easier to get into Todd’s head. I also really liked the cover of this and despite this being a bit of a longer read, I sped through it and would thoroughly recommend it, as I would with all these books!

The third book that I would like to mention is ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs. I got this book online and when I received the physical copy, I fell in love with the way this book was published. I really like the photographs that were included in the book and think that without the images, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this as much as I did. This is the kind of book that is more of a reading experience than just another standardly formatted book; the images add to the dark atmosphere and the decorated pages make this feel like a much older novel. This will definitely be a book that I re-read at some point, even though I don’t usually re-read books, because I think that there is so much that you can read into this story and the images enhance it and really absorb you as a reader.

‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer was a book that I received for review and although I usually don’t like contemporary books, this one was extremely powerful. Nathan Filer managed to really get into the head of a character with a mental illness, and portray it in such a way that really kept me turning the pages. The whole book seems very real and it’s definitely one that I would recommend. I read this in eBook format but I have seen the physical hardcover book in shops, and I love the cover and the feel of the book and think that it would be a great one to read if you like contemporary or like ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ by Mark Haddon.

The fifth book I really enjoyed this year was ‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees. I loved the simple writing style and think that although this book is fictional, it really gave a lot of information about the way that “witches” were treated in the 17th Century and earlier. I liked the characters and although I think that it would be suitable for younger readers, as an adult, I felt that the simplicity of the writing style and the plot really emphasised the conditions of the time. The fact that this was a fiction read based on real artefacts made the novel really captivating and I think if you have any interest in witches or historical novels, this is a quick must read.

I read ‘Club Monstrosity’ by Jesse Petersen for an honest review and this is one of the books that I never fail to mention when I get asked about my favourite books. I really liked the interesting characters and the way that the “monsters” were taken from classic literature, and the way that Jesse Petersen expanded on the information that we all think we know about creatures, such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, and made them much more relateable and likeable characters with individual personalities and experiences. I also read the sequel, ‘ Monsters in Your Neighbourhood’ recently and thoroughly enjoyed that also. I have a feeling that this is going to be a series that I definitely finish and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

This sixth book on my list, ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ by Mitch Albom, was also a very impactful book for me. The simple cover was the initial thing that drew me to this book and I think that the simplicity of the cover is a contrast to the impact of the actual story. The concept of meeting people that you impacted in your life after you die is something that really makes you think about your own life in a different way. The writing style just draws you in straight away and you can read this short book in one sitting, because it just draws you in and all of the different perspectives, such as the diary and the stories from the past. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a book that makes you think and I would definitely consider re-reading this one also.

‘The Eyre Affair’ by Jasper Fforde was the second book that I’ve read by this author and I found that this one was a great start to the Thursday Next series. As well as loving the cover, Jasper Fforde’s writing is such that it is intelligent and witty, yet somehow effortless to read. The interpretation of the classic Jane Eyre was so interesting, that it has made me want to pick up that book at some point in the future and I think that the alternative history that this book creates is a world that all readers would love to live in; a world that revolves around book, where literary characters can come to life, where you can get lost in your favourite novels. That is an unrealistic dream for many and I think that this book creates that idea really well and in a way that makes you hate but love the antagonists, and fall in love with the good guys.

Yes, I am 21 years old and I had never read anything by Oscar Wilde. ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was a witty and excellently written play that explored the social aspects of the time in a way that was hilarious and intelligently done. The writing was reminiscent of Stephen Fry’s and I can definitely see where Fry’s influence came from. Wilde is one of those authors that I have avoided for so long for some reason, yet, I have to say, that this book is one that I am sure I will come back to many times, taking away something new each time, and loving it as so many people have over the years. If you’re looking for an introduction into classic literature, think you don’t want to read plays, or have never experienced the genius of Oscar Wilde, this is a definite must-read for you.

Although this is the second in the series, I have to say that ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ was a much more enjoyable read than the first in the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. Although I loved the first, this had a lot more linear storyline, hence it was a lot less random, so was easier to keep up with. The characters are really what drives these novels for me and the less random plot meant that the reader could get to know the characters better, therefore, becoming more involved in their lives. I am really looking forward to the rest of this series and am excited to see what strange and wacky direction the plot takes in the next instalment.

‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins has to be mentioned on this list of my favourite books so far this year. This was another one that I avoided for a long time because I saw the film and really didn’t like it. I liked the idea of the premise but the execution of the film really put me off the novel. I eventually picked this up earlier this month and absolutely loved it! The romance aspect of the book annoyed me because in many ways I thought it unnecessary but I really liked the contrast of the Districts and the Capitol. The dystopian society was really well-formed and the writing style lent itself well to the type of story this is. I have never read anything written in first person present tense and although it was difficult to get into, I liked being in Katniss’ head, experiencing what she goes through as it is happening.

So that’s my top ten books I’ve read this year so far! It will be interesting to see what books make this list by the end of the year. Happy reading!

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