My books of 2014

Each year I write a post about the books I’ve read over the past year. This year I will (once again) try to do it a little bit different. Instead of mentioning all the books I’ve read, I will give you my top 5 suggestions based on what I’ve read.

1. Rainbow Rowell

I discovered this author this past year, and immediately fell in love with her writing. She writes amazing young adult stories that will make you laugh, cry and cheer for the main characters. This past year I read Eleanor & Park, Fangirl: A Novel and Landline. I am very much looking forward to reading more by this author.

2. The Kingkiller Chronicle

So far, there are 2 books in this fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss. Both The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One and The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2) are long reads (670 and 1000 pages respectively), but well worth it. I loved getting to know Kvothe through him telling his life’s story, and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next.

3. The Rosie Project

This book I started reading because I saw that my best friend, Anne-Sophie, had loved it so much. After I finished the book I gave it to my dad as a birthday present. He likes getting gifts that other people loved. Its follow-up, The Rosie Effect, was also very good.

4. The Giver

The Giver (Giver Quartet, Book 1) was a very enjoyable book, showing a boy who defies the path society has set for him and how things that appear perfect on the outside can be very messed up inside. I’ve read, though I don’t know if it’s true, that this has already become a classic in American schools. The book was released in 1994. Although I really enjoyed this book, I do not feel any need to read the others in the series. The story felt finished to me.

5. The Circle

My advice, do not read this book (sorry, dad, I did not like it all). I hated the way The Circle portrayed social media and the internet, like everybody online is a sheep who will do whatever is told to them and has no ability to think critically. This is not the world we live in, thankfully.

If you have any suggestions of books I should read in 2015, please let me know.

My Books of 2013 – Part 1: Fantasy

Like I did for 2012, I once again made a list of all the books I read in 2013. I did not read as much as I did in 2012. There are several reasons for this. I did not have a regular train commute. I love reading on the train and my 2-hour commute between Leuven and Kortrijk was ideal for getting a lot of reading done in 2012. I also did not have a nightlight in Paramaribo. This seems like a small thing but it made a big difference. I like to read before going to sleep. This was near impossible without a nightlight because it gets really dark really quickly (and quite early) in Paramaribo.

I ended up reading 32 books total. I have divided them up in categories that I will post over the next couple of days. I changed my rating system this year. Instead of giving books a star review I will use the length of time it took me to read the book. I finish a normal, 300-page book in about 2 weeks. If I finished it faster it usually means I really enjoyed it. If it took longer it means the book didn’t really grab my attention. There are a couple of exceptions which I will explain when I come to those books.

There is one book that I started this year and didn’t finish, The Dark Portal, Book 1 of The Deptford Mice Trilogy. I just could not identify with the characters or get involved in the story.

Disclaimer: all links to books are Amazon Affiliate links. This means I get a percentage if you purchase something at Amazon after clicking on a link. It doesn’t cost you anything.

Son of the Shadows (The Sevenwaters Trilogy #2) – Juliet Marillier

Son of the ShadowsSecond of the Sevenwaters trilogy of novels about the last days of heroic Ireland, Son of the Shadows takes up the story of the children of Sorcha, who saved her enchanted brothers, and Hugh, the Briton she married. Sorcha’s daughter Liadan is a gifted seer and healer who thinks, in spite of her visions, that she knows what the future has in store for her–caring for her dying mother and then an alliance marriage to Eamonn. A chance meeting on the road carries her off to care for a dying man–one of the mercenaries of the sinister Painted Man, Eamonn’s archenemy and a killer for hire. Liadan discovers that she cannot choose whom she loves and that she and the Painted Man are as bound up in destiny as her mother and father were before her.

I really enjoy this series. The stories remind me of old English or Irish legends (and with good reason, as they are based on old legends). I will definitely read the next book in the series soon (it’s already on my Kindle).

Jan. 01 – Jan. 14

Dragon Wing (Death Gate Cycle #1) – Margaret Weis

2946045Preeminent storytellers Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have redefined epic fantasy. Since the publication of their Dragonlance series, millions of readers have enjoyed their imaginative world-building, rich characterization, and intricate storylines. Now these best-selling authors bring their talents to one of the most innovative fantasy creations ever in Dragon Wing, the first volume in The Death Gate Cycle.

This was… enjoyable. I used to love reading fantasy books. Now I find the names to be overly complicated and a little annoying. They take me out of the story because each time I read them I wonder how they are supposed to be pronounced. I did like the story enough to read the next book in the series (see below).

June 04 – June 21

Elven Star (Death Gate Cycle #2) – Margaret Weis

28485On steamy Pryan, never-ending sunlight and plentiful rain have created a jungle so vast that humans and elves dwell high in the trees and only dwarves live anywhere near the ground. From the treetops the aristocratic elves sell weapons to the other races, whose incessant warfare sends a steady steam of profits and essential resources skyward. Now, generations of dissent and race hatred will not heal — not even under the threat of annihilation at the hands of legendary Titans. Armed with little more than their wits and prophecy, an elf, a human, and a dwarf must unite to try to save the world from destruction.

I enjoyed this book less than the first one. It all seemed a bit cliché. I don’t know if I’ll read the rest of the series.

Sep. 09 – Sep. 21

Part 2 – Young Adult Fantasy

My Books of 2012 – Part One: Biography/Autobiography

At the start of 2012 I bought a Kindle Touch, and this led me to read a lot of books (for me) this year. What follows is an overview (split up over several posts because it would get really long otherwise).
For each book I’ll give the summary as found on GoodReads, followed by the rating I gave it when I finished the book and my thoughts on it.

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

“From the author of the bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive biography of Steve Jobs.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years–as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues–Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.” – GoodReads

5 stars

This was a must-read for me, and I think it should be for most everybody. It gives a very good overview of the man Steve Jobs, and the work he has done.

Mud, Sweat and Tears – Bear Grylls

Mud, Sweat and Tears“Bear Grylls is a man who has always loved adventure. After leaving school, he spent months hiking in the Himalayas as he considered joining the Indian Army. Upon his return to England after a change of heart, he passed SAS selection and served with 21 SAS for three years. During this time, he broke his back in several places in a free-fall parachuting accident and it was questionable whether he would ever walk again. However, after months of rehabilitation, focusing always on his childhood dream of climbing Everest, he slowly became strong enough to attempt the ultimate ascent of the world’s highest peak. At 7.22 a.m. on 26 May 1998, Bear entered the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest Briton to have successfully climbed Everest and returned alive. He was only twenty-three years old and this was only the beginning of his extreme adventures…Known and admired by millions – whether from his prime-time TV adventures, as a bestselling author or as a world-class motivational speaker – Bear has been there and done it all. Now, for the first time and in his own words, this is the story of his action-packed life” – GoodReads

4 stars

I love watching Bear Grylls on television but at first was a bit apprehensive about his writing ability. I shouldn’t have been. This was a great easy read. It was fascinating to read about the life of a man who didn’t take the ordinary road.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson

12868761“For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.” – GoodReads

Winner of a 2012 GoodReads Choice Award

5 stars

I love reading The Bloggess but had been putting off reading the book, mainly because of the price ($18 for the Kindle version where the paperback was less than half that). I ended up buying it for myself as a birthday gift and am really happy I did. Jenny Lawson has lived a strange life, and shares those stories in her characteristic humorous way.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain – Portia de Rossi

9219901“Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.” – GoodReads

5 stars

I have had several close friends struggle with anorexia, and while I always try my hardest to support them and be there for them it is hard to understand what they are struggling with. Portia de Rossi does a great job of telling us the story of how she became anorexic and what was going on in her mind. This is a must-read.

My Heart Is an Idiot – Davy Rothbart

13166633“Davy Rothbart is looking for love in all the wrong places. Constantly. He falls helplessly in love with pretty much every girl he meets—and rarely is the feeling reciprocated. Time after time, he hops in a car and tears across half of America with his heart on his sleeve. He’s continually coming up with outrageous schemes, which he always manages to pull off. Well, almost always. But even when things don’t work out, Rothbart finds meaning and humor in every moment. Whether it’s humiliating a scammer who takes money from aspiring writers or playing harmless (but side-splitting) goofs on his deaf mother, nothing and no one is off-limits.
But as much as Rothbart is a tragically lovable, irresistibly brokenhearted hero, it’s his prose that’s the star of the book. In the tradition of David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley but going places very much his own, his essays show how things that are seemingly so wrong can be so, so right.” – GoodReads

5 stars

A short but sweet read that I could definitely relate to. Bittersweet memories, sudden adventures,…

Stories from a Teacher – Jonathan Flores

15728378“In 2008, Jonathan Flores surprised his students as the youngest, most energetic teacher they’d ever seen. After only four years, Mr. Flores turned in his resignation, and his students all showed up to find out why. But instead of describing a single moment that made him quit, he told them his stories – each one, an insane memory from his teaching career.

As the world demands ‘superhero’ teachers, Flores shares experiences (from hilarious to heartbreaking) to reveal that teachers aren’t invincible – and that they need help.” – GoodReads

5 stars

This was a great read that reminded me of the great teachers that make class fun and inspirational. The only thing that bothered me was that for a book written by an English teacher there were a lot of spelling errors and typos.

Things Go Wrong For Me – Rodney Lacroix

perf6.690x9.610.indd“Things Go Wrong For Me (when life hands you lemons, add vodka) is a memoir of sorts, a roadmap of Rodney Lacroix’s haywire life thus far. From his childhood, through the raising of his own kids, to his vasectomy and post-divorce world … this book is more than just a culmination of outrageous stories woven into a cohesive narrative, it’s a testament for the ‘little guy.’” – GoodReads

 

2 stars

I thought this book would be similar to My Heart is an Idiot, but I did not enjoy this book at all. I can definitely see the audience it has, but Rodney’s humor and mine don’t jive.