2014 : My Year in Review


First of All I would like to say a big Happy New Year and thank you to anyone who has read this blog over the past year. I do it for myself but it's still nice to know that other people want to read what you write.

It's been an up and down year for me. Blog wise the biggest leap I made was getting a new design professionally made. It was the best decision I ever made as I am finally happy with how my blog looks!

As for the down part: My health took a turn for the worst this year so I have been finding it hard to keep up with all the regular things life throws at you never mind reading and blogging. The future is looking pretty unpredictable so I'm not sure If I'm going to be able to commit to regular posting all the time.

Now for the good stuff. My Year in review.

Favorite books of 2014

click HERE to read my review of Gretel and the Dark

Click HERE to read my review of Tony Hogan

I couldnt pick between these two so I had to go for both because they are so different. Both were amazing debut's though. I don't read a whole lot of YA but Gretel and the dark was incredible.

Tony Hogan was gritty and quirky. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Roddy Doyle.

You can click on the links beneath  to be taken to a more in depth review of each.

The Goodreads Challenge

At the time of writing it's not looking like I'm going to hit my goodreads challenge target. Every year I set it at 100 books and every year I have managed to break it, until now. Due to health and other things I had to reduce it to 90 books and at the minute I'm over halfway through book number 87. I might just cheat and change it back to 85 ha ;)

It's not bugging me this year as I'm trying to focus on spending time carefully choosing books that I know I will enjoy rather than randomly requesting loads of books on Netgalley and not really enjoying most of them. 

Netgalley Ratio

At the minute my Netgalley Feeback Ratio is over 90%. Woo! I'm going to do my best to keep it that way by being incredibly strict with myself!

So how was your year? What were your favorite reads? If you've done a year in review post please feel free to link me to it so I can check it out!

Wishing you all a happy 2015!

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Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter



Published: Novemeber 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Ebook

Finally, A YA book I didn't hate!!

I was so so sick of every YA book being full of Whiny teens who hate their parents and are caught up in ridiculous love triangles .

Ugly Girls doesn't pander to the reader and (rightly) assumes that they can handle more than some wuss crying over the new buff boy at school!

Danya ( knicknamed baby girl) and Perry have been friends for years. They dont really know whey their friends. They're not particular nice to each other. They dont talk about boys or other normal teens stuff. When they're together they just “are”. They seem to use each other to vent when ever it's needed. This venting comes in the form of hijacking cars from upmarket neighbor hoods or petty convenient store theft.

Baby girl seems to revel in her own insecurity. She ruins her appearance to match how she feels on the inside. Perry on the other hand is beautiful on the outside but rotten to the core. The perfect odd couple. That is until Baby Girl realises that Jamey is only speaking to her in an attempt to get close to Perry.

She someone manages to convince perry that they should meet up with him just to tell him to back off. This doesn't go to plan though and ends up being a sharp turning point for both girls.

I loved how descriptive the writing was. Hunter does a marvelous job of transporting the reader right into that dusty smelly trailer park.

I cant say I was mad about the ending. I'm not a reader who needs everything wrapped up in a neat bow but they're were a lot of loose threads left after turning the last page. I also had to knock of one star as it was pretty predictable.

However Ugly girls was dark, gritty and highly readable. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something more than the usual paranormal infested tripe that is YA.


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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The Homesman by Glen Swarthout


Re published February 14th by Simon & Schuster 
Format: Paperback
Page count: 256

This was my first Glen Swarthout book so I had no idea what to expect from this. Like others (probably) I've seen the trailer for the film and liked what I saw. I then proceeded to rush out and buy the book so I could be all pretentious with the whole “ I liked it before it was a movie line”

This was a hard book to review. My god it was bleak. Really bleak but it doesn't try to be anything other than bleak. Considering the subject matter how could it be anything else?

In return for saving his life Briggs agrees to help Mary Bee Cuddy ferry 4 women who have lost their minds across the western plains back home to their families. Not exactly a laugh a minute.

But for all its bleakness there is beauty in it. Mary Bee is an amazing character. She lives alone as all the men have wrote her off for being plain as tin. They refuse to look beyond to see what a remarkable woman she really is. She lives alone and manages to stay sane and strong. Something women with a husband for support have not managed to do. They seem to think that having a husband and a lock of kids will solve everything. When it clearly doesn't !

When it comes time to bring these poor women home she commits the ultimate act of selflessness by agreeing to take on this seemingly impossible task.

I was so utterly disgusted by how easy it was for the husbands to just wave the wives off. Glad to be free of the burden. I know it was common at the time especially with the lack of asylums but it didnt make it any easier to read, or accept.

I found the pacing very very slow. The story trundles along very much like the wagon itself. The landscape seems to affect every aspect of this story. The journey is fairly uneventful until the unexpected twist near the end. I have to say I didn't see it coming at all but when it did happen I could see why it happened. It didn't make it any less heartbreaking though.

I'm still torn on the ending. It was almost like Swarthhout just ran out of material. It was strange.

If your looking for a slow burning western that's a little bit different then I'd definitely recommend The Homesman


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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DNF : Victorian Murderesses by Mary S Hartman



Published: June 2014
Publisher: Dover
Format: Kindle eBook

A copy was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review

In my head I had this idea that Victorian women murdering people and getting up to all sorts of unspeakable things would be more...shocking? I suppose in the 1800's it probably WAS incredibly shocking...but now, not so much.

Victorian Murderesses uses court transcripts and letters to re create the murders. It's well written but for some reason that just wasn't enough to hold my interest. The stories were brief but the author constantly skipped back and forth between unrelated crimes which really interrupted the flow. 

I would regard this book as a sort of stepping stone to individual cases of interest as it's not detailed enough for those who have already read extensively in any of the individual cases.

It's too dry for a pleasure read so I can imagine this book appealing to a limited type of reader. That reader just wasn't me .



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Discussion: Do you review every book you read? Should we?


At this point in time there are 10 books on my goodreads "to review" shelf. I keep books I have just read on this shelf until I can get a chance to write a review.

Lately the amount of reviews I have been posting have decreased dramatically. This isn't because I have been reading a lot less. It's because I don't really feel like I have much to say about some of those books.

Some of them have been published a few years ago and I feel like I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said. Others are there because I cannot bring myself to review them. 

The past few books I've read have been mediocre at best and the only word that comes to mind when wanting to review them is "meh". Best review ever.

This lead to me asking  if I really have to review every book I read if I don't have anything unique to say about it. 

I have always been a believer in quality over quantity but There is a fine line between posting quality infrequently and loosing readers because of infrequent posting.

If I receive a review copy from Netgalley or a publisher I obviously feel obligated to write a review because it's part of the deal.  They're expecting a review in return for providing the book regardless of how I feel. This has led to me being extremely choosy when requesting books .

I should also point out that I don't mean that I only want to review books that I enjoy. I want to write about books that make me feel something...anything.  Even if I hated it!

So what about you? Do you feel obligated to review every book you read? Even if you have paid for it yourself?

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton



Published: July 2014
Publisher: Picador
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 435

Another disappointing read. I seem to be getting a run of them lately. I thought this would be one of my favorites of the year. Reading other reviews is making me wonder if I was reading the same book.

The blurb lead me to believe I was getting a mystery I could really get into. I was hoping for something along the lines of Tracy chevalier or Michelle Moran. It didn't even come close unfortunately.

Nothing really happens in the book. It's badly paced and I almost gave up around the halfway mark. The endless droning on about sugar drove me mad. 80% of the book is one long pointless conversation

The story centres around Nella Orrtman. An uninteresting young woman who has married into the Brandt household. Her new husband is rather aloof and more interested in his work than her. In an attempt to show some interest in her, he presents her with a cabinet. An exact replica of the Brandt household for Nella to decorate as she pleases.

Nella contracts a miniaturist to begin crafting replica's to place in the cabinet. However she soon realises that these pieces have more significance. Each piece seems to tell a tale of what is to become. I wanted more of this. More mystery and suspense but the books namesake never really takes her place in the story.

It's hard to really put a finger on what I didn't like about this book. It just didn't grab me. It was mundane. The characters are one dimensional and completely lack in emotional complexity. Nella and Johannes show no real interest in each other so I felt no emotion towards the end when the tides turn against him.

Nothing is ever really explained. Nothing was convincing, so nothing was believable  


★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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