My 2019 Reading Challenge So Far

A great book should leave you with many expectations, and slightly exhausted at the end – William Styron.

I have wanted to write a little update on my reading challenge for quite a while. I wanted to blog about it at the halfway point through the year, but so much was going on that blogging and reading went to the bottom of the to do pile. Instead, I am writing it now because I have read two thirds of my target for 2019 which I am really proud of. Twenty books may be jaw-dropping to some people and a roll of the eye to others. To me, I feel like I have been reading a lot, but doing other things too which has created a balance that I am ecstatic with. Sometimes us serial readers put a little pressure (and then some) on ourselves to make sure we hit that target. This usually takes over the actual enjoyment of reading, and you almost forget what the book was about. At the beginning of the year, I was racing through them. Then I hit a slump; I’ve picked it back up again now and I am loving the experience of falling deep into the hole of a brand new story. In fact, I’m going to start a brand new book tonight… one that I have been waiting to read since before I even heard the title! That is the beauty of books… you fall in love with them before the very first page. That’s enough rambling; let’s get into my reading challenge of 2019 so far…

MY FAVOURITE BOOK

Sky In The Deep by Arienne Young

I want to read Sky In The Deep all over again after gorging it within two train journeys earlier this year. It will take a lot, and I mean a lot, for a book to knock this off the number one spot. I consumed it whole and I immediately wanted to flick back to the very first page and read it all over again, once I had finished. There are few books that do that, I think. When they do, their stories are all you can think about. I read Sky In The Deep in March; five months later, I am still thinking about it. The elements of viking history, the unrequited love story, the badass nature of the main character, the love of family honour as well as the complete and utter brutality of it all are what made me fall in love with this story. Adrienne Young became one of my favourite authors the day I began reading this epic debut.

MY LEAST FAVOURITE BOOK

Bride Squad Runaway by Caroline Grace-Cassidy & Lisa C. Carey

There has to be one, I’m afraid, and this is the only one that I willingly put down in favour of reading something else for a little while. It is a comedy about friendship, broken hearts and realising your true self-worth. It was a long string of confusing speech with some description thrown in, but I loved the themes and I would love to see it in the theatre. I feel like this story is meant to be on stage with three hilarious Irish women in the spotlight.

THE LONGEST BOOK

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

With 514 pages as well as it being one of my larger books on the shelf, Muse of Nightmares is the longest book I have read this year so far. I have a couple of books which are the same size that I want to read later in the year, but I think this one will still top them all, especially if you count it as the second, crucial, half to a beautiful masterpiece. Despite its volume, I read it the latter of the story within days because I could not put the book down. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the beginning of the tale. The reason why it is so long is that it is full of stunning (and sometimes unnecessary) descriptions that take you to the land of dreams. You won’t want to return to your reality after being there.

THE SHORTEST BOOK

The Little Book of Happiness by Alison Davies

A little square orange book full of happiness quotes is something everyone needs to read regardless of the time of year. With just 191 pages and usually one quote per page, it is perfect for those quick bursts of inspiration, reading on route to work, or just before bed when you are manifesting your goals into the universe. It makes you believe in being positive and the entire book can be read within an hour or two.

MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER

Isaac, The Devouring Gray by Christina Lynn Herman

There was a lot of debate in my mind about who my favourite character has been so far in 2019. I adored every Sky In The Deep personality with all my being, but Isaac definitely stood out for me from The Devouring Gray. In a story about a monster lurking in the woods, Christina Lynn Herman also manages to write such conflict and confusion with such poise and beauty about a character who is broken, yet strong. Isaac is that character, and the reason why he is my favourite is because he has a weakness, because he has a beautiful soul (even if he doesn’t show it) and because he is misguided as well as dark and tortured. Everyone loves a tortured bad boy in a young adult novel.

THE MOST HEART-WARMING

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue is as heart-breaking as it is heart-warming. However, the reason it wins out with the more positive aspect is that, through the tears I shed reading this book, I inevitably smiled as I read the final pages. The book is about love and loss, about finding yourself after a tragedy, about friendship and the genuine care people have for one another, no matter their background and no matter their past. It is a beautiful story that had my heart soaring as well as breaking. Ultimately, it proves that life goes on and things do get better, no matter what happens.

THE MOST HEART-BREAKING

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

I don’t think it is possible to read a more astonishing book. Based on the true events of a Holocaust survivor, The Tattooist of Aushwitz had me in tears. My throat constricted and swelled as I cried over the horrific events that occurred on the pages. Through its heart-break, it made me want to learn more about the past; I want to educate myself further than the history we are told in the classroom. The friends that Lale Sokolov loves and loses are beautiful souls who did not deserve the terrifying nightmare their life became. The characters in this book encompass every single person who was imprisoned in those camps and the story wouldn’t be so horrifying if it was not based on the truth that plagues our history.

THE ONE I WANT TO READ A SEQUEL OF

The Year After You by Nina de Pass

I read this within one day. I consumed it whole and it was such an incredible, heart-breaking, rewarding story that I want to know what happens to Cara and her friends next. I understand why it ended where it did because the hardest part of Cara’s journey was over. At least, her grief became something that she could live with, something she could let go of if she needed to. Nevertheless, I want to see her new friendships blossom, to see if her forgiveness wanes, or if it comes back with a vengeance when she least expects it to.

I have to point out – mini disclaimer – that I want to choose different books for different categories to illustrate the variety of books that I have read so far this year. In reality, I would probably choose Sky In The Deep for topics such as my favourite character as well as the sequel element. It might be pretty boring for you guys if all you saw was the exact same title and author all the way through this post. Therefore, the choices I have made are very close seconds that are still true to my word of favourites… if that makes sense. Another disclaimer: some of these books were sent in exchange for a review earlier this year.

So that is where I am at with my reading challenge of 2019 so far. I think that the latter end of the year will see me reading heavier books with far more pages, especially as we enter the cooler months of autumn. I am also looking forward to reading a few horror books around Halloween time to get into the spirit, and I hope to read a few more comedies and rom-coms. I always love a good rom-com and there are a few I have my eye on!

How is your reading challenge going so far this year?

Love, Faye xo

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