Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sooz's Half Yearly Reading Challenge Roundup

Now, don't faint, yes, I am here, I am back, I've just been incredibly busy - and baby Antonia is now 14 weeks old and twisting me around her little finger like you wouldn't believe. Wonder where she gets that from? Not guilty!
Anyway, I realise that I went through June without a single blog post - shame on me, but you've got to understand, my daughter is super-cute and I can spend hours just watching her amazement at everything.

But, where are we at? Well, I think I can safely say that I am going to have to delay by a few months the release of What If, until around Feb 2014. (I know...but needs must!)

So, what have I been doing, apart from changing nappies and watching Wimbledon? Well, I have managed to do some reading and I thought it might be fun to look at the books I set myself to read this year and then look at what I've actually read. I haven't been doing as many reviews, but I might manage the occasional one every so often from now on. Stay tuned for that.
According to Goodreads, I've managed to read 26 books this year, out of my goal of 35 (bear in mind that I thought that post-baby, I'd be lucky to read a flyer for Aldi, never mind books - but I've managed)

Here is the full list I set myself on 2nd Jan - http://www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk/2013_01_01_archive.html

So, first off I started with Carole Matthews' - With Love At Christmas - 5 stars from me! Fantastic chick lit read.
Party Games by E J Greenway - 4 stars - political thriller, but with lots of relationship stuff. Review here - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/477371955
The Racketeer - John Grisham - I was trying to work my way through the hardback books I got for my 40th birthday in December and Christmas first, otherwise I would have been as well to wait for the paperback to come out - seemed logical to me! - big Grisham fan, one of his best - 5 stars from me.
I have three Talli Roland books on my list - but so far have only managed Mistletoe in Manhattan, a Christmas novella - my only complaint was it was so short, but then it was a novella - doh! 4 stars
Jenny Colgan had 2 books on my list - Meet Me At The Cupcake Café and Christmas at the Cupcake Café. I was a tad wary, as I hate cupcakes, but actually Jenny's stories have made me think all I need to do is find somewhere which makes decent cupcakes! Loved both books, although the original was my favourite. Both 4 stars in my book. 
Julia Williams' A Merry Little Christmas was I think my second Kindle read of the year. My own fault, I was thinking it was a Christmas book and I do tend to overindulge in them and read them year round, but I forgot the village in the novel was Hope Christmas and the novel wasn't really so much to do with Christmas...but no matter, it was enjoyable and a 4 star.
The Black Box by Michael Connelly was one of his best I thought - although it took me a while to get into it - but I reckon that was baby Antonia's interruptions, rather than the calibre of the book. 4 stars from me.
A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr - review here http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/444121814 - was a very fun chicklit read - easily 4 stars - looking forward to  her next book.
The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes - I have to say, I was disappointed. I don't know if it's because I never liked Helen and I get that she was meant to not be very likeable, but I think maybe it's because I am also past all the clothing references. It was novel for her to be a private investigator and yes, it was still funny, but I simply don't think it was one of her best, although I know many disagree with me. I still gave it 4 stars for the way it dealt with depression.
One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern - absolutely my favourite book this year - you know the kind of book which stays with you? It's one of those! As always with Cecelia's books, it's quite different from what went before. 5 stars
27: Six Friends - One Year by R J Heald - had been looking forward to reading this for quite a while - 5 stars from me!  Loved the way the lives of the 6 friends intertwined. Review here - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/481695244
The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson - I've loved all of Dorothy's books and this was no different. It was as good as The Ice Cream Girls, if not better. If I heard right, it's being made into a TV drama too.
Second Chances by Maria Savva. I have to say, I preferred Coincidences, but I have a few others of Maria's on my list for this year and she has also just released Delusion and Dreams (which I was meant to beta read, but then baby Antonia decided to come early....kids, eh?)
Sophie's Turn by Nicky Wells - I confess to being dubious about how much I would like this, not because I had preconceptions about the author's work, but because I had recently read another rock star type novel, but I need not have worried - I absolutely loved it. So much so, I downloaded Sophie's Run, the follow up, as one of my three World Book Night reads. I've started it and it's my current Kindle read. 4 stars for Sophie's Turn. Review of Sophie's Turn - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/437410487
Ten Years On by Alice Peterson - absolutely loved this book. Have a few more of Alice's books to read, but this reminded me, although a different subject matter, of Jojo Moyes' Me Before You. 5 stars from me. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/344463349
You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi MacFarlane - there was a lot of hype surrounding this book and initially I just didn't get it and to a certain extent I still don't. I ended up rating it 4 stars, as I did really enjoy it in the end. But I did feel it was a bit of simile and metaphor overload - the very thing I liked about it in the early chapters, was driving me nuts by the end. It was, however, worth reading.

NOW, that brings us to the end of the books that I KNEW I was going to read. And, well, I kind of knew I would read this next one, although I didn't know when it would be released, or its title - Full Circle by Terry Tyler, the follow up to Dream On. Thoroughly enjoyed it - even with a brand new baby, still managed to read it in only a few days - although balancing a baby, a bottle and a Kindle is not as easy as others make out! Easily 4.5 stars from me. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/589136629
And, I know she is working on a new book, which I fully expect to be out later this year, so that will have to go on my To Read list now, too.
I've just finished Emily Barr's The Sleeper, which I think is due out on 4th July, but I begged for a review copy and was kindly sent one - couldn't put it down - 4.5 stars. Another thriller from Emily. Interesting to see how her style has changed since her early books. I noticed the same with Dorothy Koomson - went from being a slightly dark women's contemporary fiction novelist to a thriller writer. They are both great at both.
I had this moment a few weeks ago, where I thought, 'I really should read some of my paper book mountain' and decided to read the first book of an author beginning with K in my home library. Well, once I discovered it was Kafka's Metamorphosis, I figured I might change that to the second book by an author beginning with K - which led me to Manju Kapur's The Immigrant. I've read about 100 pages, but although it's all right, it simply isn't gripping me. I shall go back to it, after my current paper book - The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle, which I picked up by chance on the way back from Rhymetime with baby Antonia last week at our local library - simply can't go past a library and not get a book out - makes no difference how many books I have at home unread...
Since I've loved all of Mike Gayle's books, I figure I will love this too, I just reckon it might take a while longer, this being Wimbledon week...
Jill Mansell's A Walk in the Park is another book I picked up at the library - a book I'd missed buying last year, as I was too busy writing. Really enjoyed it - love Jill's books and another solid 4 star from me. Review here - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/617265415
The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris - again there was a lot of hype surrounding this book, but this time I thought it was definitely well deserved. Again it had undertones of Me Before You and Ten Years On, mentioned above. Easily a 4 star.
Carole Matthews' Summer Daydreams was another novel which I had missed the boat on buying when it came out, so I picked it up in the library and absolutely loved it. I think Carole's books are simply getting better and better. But I particularly loved the occupations in this novel, the US side of things and the fact that it had more serious messages, whilst still having the usual Carole trademarks.
4 stars from me!
Sophie Hannah's The Other Half Lives - discovered Sophie's thrillers last year and they have so many twists, my head feels like it is going to spin off. I enjoyed this, but I preferred some of her others, as I thought this one was just slightly too far-fetched (not that the others aren't!) Even at that, she still gets 5 stars...
The Quintessential Gemini by Linn B Halton - this is my first book of Linn's, but I have a few others to read. I enjoyed the story, but possibly because I am not into astrology and don't believe in star signs having any sway over things (rich I realise, having written Sign of the Times!) I didn't relate to it as much as I possibly could have, were I more astrologically minded.

Baggage by Emily Barr - the reason I was so keen to get an advance review copy of The Sleeper. This is an old book, but I had it in my home library unread. Loved it. Very clever indeed. Easy 5 stars from me. Not the psychological thriller of her current novels, but a dark tale nonetheless.

And do you know what? I've finally caught up..
that said, I need to add the following - Khaled Hosseini - And The Mountains Echoed
Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Watcher in the Shadows
and I am avidly awaiting new releases from Tracie Banister and Samantha Stroh-Bailey, who featured on my top books of 2012. Plus I am sure some of my favourite authors will bring out some new books later this year and I won't have thought of those.
Anyway, it only remains for me to say, enjoy the above and now for me, it's back to reading!
Sooz x


  1. Wow, that's a blog post and a half!!! Many, many thanks for the sooooper mention! xxx

  2. WOW! Color me impressed that you've read so many books already this year, Sooz. I've only read 10 books so far in 2013 and I don't have a baby as an excuse!

    Looking forward to your next one, even if I have to wait until 2014! Chances are my third book won't be making an appearance before then either.

  3. Wow! You have been busy, Sooz! Dying to see a picture of little Antonia! Thanks for mentioning my books :) Hope you enjoy the others when you get around to them. I'm looking forward to your new release! xx

  4. My goodness, how do you fit it all in? When my babes where 14 weeks old, I counted myself lucky if I managed to get dressed and leave the house, LOL, and here's you working. You're a star! Thanks for the big shoutout too, I'm honoured. XXX

  5. So happy to be included in this list. Thank you for the shout-out! I hope you'll enjoy my upcoming release, Blogger Girl, as much, if not more than A State of Jane :)

  6. Cannot believe you managed to read anything with a baby - well done! I seem to remember vegging out (a.k.a. dozing off) in front of daytime telly when I had a 14 week old. And quite a diverse bunch of reads as well - pleased to see that you have some of my own recommended reads in there, such as Nicky Wells, Sophie Hannah, Emily Barr, Cecelia Ahern... And I love the fact that you are reading so many women writers (I have to admit I'm a bit deficient in that regard).