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2018 Plans > Marie's "If your name's not down, you're not coming in" Plan 2018

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message 1: by Marie (last edited Dec 30, 2018 07:44AM) (new)

Marie | 706 comments The last two years of doing this challenge have significantly increased my TBR. I'm getting a little overrun with books, so my rule for the 2018 plan was - it only goes on the list if it's already on my TBR. An exception will be have to be made for #52 unfortunately, but I'm hopeful the Goodreads Awards will be kind to me, so that should be the only thing added to the TBR for 2018's challenge.

I'm aiming to read in order, but sometimes there's got to be a switch if I need a paperback for the beach or an ebook on my phone when I'm caught bookless away from home.

For the four elements prompts I decided to do one each from in title, cover, content/theme and author.

1. A book with the letters A, T & Y in the title
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

2. A book from the first 10 books added to your To Be Read list
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

3. A book from the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards
Fingers crossed for either The Hate U Give or The Keeper of Lost Things
(They were both in there, I chose The Keeper of Lost Things)

4. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #1 Earth
Holes by Louis Sachar (content/theme - they're digging holes in the earth, right?)

5. A book about or inspired by real events
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

6. A book originally written in a language other than English
Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson, translated by Quentin Bates

7. A gothic novel
Omens by Kelley Armstrong

8. An "own voices" book
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

9. A book with a body part in the title
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

10. An author's debut book
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

11. A literary fiction
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

12. A book set in Africa or South America
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

13. A book with a plot centered around a secret
Pines by Blake Crouch

14. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #2 Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (title - this one's obvious)

15. A book with an unique format/writing structure
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

16. A narrative nonfiction
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain - Bill Bryson

17. A book you expect to make you laugh
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (this is a bit of a gamble, if it fails I promise to re-read something by Terry Pratchett as "punishment")

18. A book with a location in the title
Looking for Alaska by John Green

19. A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand master author
The Last Child by John Hart

20. A book rated 5 stars by at least one of your friends
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

21. A book written in first person perspective
Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

22. A book you have high expectations or hope for
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

23. A medical or legal thriller
The Last Juror by John Grisham

24. A book with a map
The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

25. A book with an antagonist/villain point of view
I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

26. A book with a text only cover
X by Sue Grafton

27. A book about surviving a hardship
The Martian by Andy Weir

28. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #3 Water
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (author - apparently Vanderpool means "from the pool" in Dutch)

29. A book with a "Clue" weapon on the cover or title
The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (there's a rope, it's small, but it's there)

30. A short book
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

31. A book set in a country you'd like to visit but have never been to
Down Under by Bill Bryson

32. An alternate history book
11/22/63 by Stephen King

33. A book connected (title, cover, content) to a word "born" in the same year as you
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (my year is 1972, my word is wafflestomper)

34. A suggestion from the AtY 2018 polls, that didn't win but was polarizing or a close-call
I chose - A book, any genre, dealing with loss and grief
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

35. A book featuring a murder
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

36. A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven't read before
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

37. A Women's Prize for Fiction winner or nominee
White Teeth by Zadie Smith

38. A science book or a science fiction book
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

39. A book with a form of punctuation in the title
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

40. A book from Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

41. A book by an author with the same first and last initials
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

42. A book that takes place on, in, or underwater
Along the Edge of America by Peter Jenkins

43. A book with a title that is a whole sentence
A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

44. A ghost story
Twisted Branch by Chris Blaine

45. A book that intimidates/scares you
It by Stephen King

46. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #4 Air
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (cover - it's birds flying, they're flying in the air, air is invisible, but it's definitely there)

47. A book where the main character (or author) is of a different ethnic origin, religion, or sexual identity than your own
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

48. A book related to one of the 7 deadly sins
Succubus Dreams by Richelle Mead (she's a succubus, there's got to be some lust going on)

49. A book from one of the Goodreads Best Books of the Month lists
The Good Father by Noah Hawley

50. A book with a warm atmosphere
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

51. An award-winning short story or short story collection
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman

52. A book published in 2018
The Coordinates of Loss by Amanda Prowse (not a panic buy, but not an awesome surprise - I hated this one enough to actually write a review!)
An awesome surprise this will be. Or a last minute panic buy for 99p on the kindle.


Finished at about 11.30am on 30 December 2018, with over 36 hours to spare. I'd say this is perfect timing, I don't have that long to resist starting on the new books.


message 2: by Marina H (new)

Marina H | 1315 comments I love your take on the four elements - very creative!

Good luck with your list. I hope you'll be able to stick with the plan. That has always been the difficult part for me. I seem to loose interest in the books if I plan to far ahead.


message 3: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments Holes is a great choice for the earth prompt! It’s a really great book too, I only read it because I picked it up for 1 CHF from a used book sale, but I loved it.


message 4: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Marina H wrote: "I love your take on the four elements - very creative!

Good luck with your list. I hope you'll be able to stick with the plan. That has always been the difficult part for me. I seem to loose inter..."


Thanks, I really enjoyed the puzzle of trying to figure out how to fit the four elements books in with that extra rule.

I'm a planner, so I shouldn't have any trouble sticking to it - I've made no changes to the content of this year's plan, only the order. I love the planning phase, and I prefer knowing exactly what to read next without having to think about it. It's kind of relaxing, knowing the choices are already made, and seeing that pile of books waiting for me.


message 5: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Jody wrote: "Holes is a great choice for the earth prompt! It’s a really great book too, I only read it because I picked it up for 1 CHF from a used book sale, but I loved it."

I've heard good things about it. My copy is also second hand, a bargain 50 cents from the Red Cross shop. I love the treasure hunt for used books.


message 6: by Joan (new)

Joan Barnett | 1544 comments I've stalked your list and we have a lot of the same tastes in books. I wasn't aware of that other book by Ruth Sepetys that you have on your list. I'll have to check that out. The Martian was a nice surprise for me. Have you read other books by Joe Hill? I didn't realize until this week that he is Stephen King's son.


message 7: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments I've never read Ruth Sepetys, but I'm looking forward to that one. I was determined to fit it into my list somehow.

I've never read Joe Hill before either - I have to admit finding out who his dad is gave me the final push to buy it, after picking it up and putting it back on the shelf a couple of book shopping trips in a row. I'm sure he's great anyway, but I'm interested to compare the two.


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna | 977 comments Great list, Marie! I admire your sticking with your TBR, and also with sticking to your plan. This year I read about 25% of what was originally on my plan. Love your little comments/explanation on some of the prompts. :)


message 9: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Oct 23, 2017 04:40AM) (new)

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2472 comments Mod
LOL, I've only read NOS4A2 by Joe Hill a few years ago but as I was reading it I was thinking " this reminds me soooo much of Stephen King". Lo and Behold....now we know why. I have Heart Shaped Box on my 2017 list and The Fireman on my 2018 list and can't wait to read them.


message 10: by Joan (new)

Joan Barnett | 1544 comments Tracy wrote: "LOL, I've only read NOS4A2 by Joe Hill a few years ago but as I was reading it I was thinking " this reminds me soooo much of Stephen King". Lo and Behold....now we know why. I have Heart Shaped Bo..."

I was thinking I was the only that didn't realize that. I'm glad I'm not!


message 11: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments I don't think I've ever been so happy it's morning on New Year's Day! The coffee's brewing, the sun's just come up and I'm about to get started.

Really excited about the first book, Out of the Easy. Don't know why, as I've never read anything by this author before. It's set in New Orleans, which is one of my favourite places, so maybe that's it.


message 12: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Very pleased with today's 'work' - Week 1 done:

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys was my book with the letters A, T & Y in the title and an excellent way to get the challenge started. It made me laugh and there were a few tears, which I always think is a sign of good writing. I'm kind of sad it's over so quickly. I'd love a sequel, a prequel, or both - there were some fantastic characters, it seems a pity to waste them on just one book.

So that's one book off the TBR, and a few added to my shopping list, as Ruta Sepetys has written a couple of other books and the non-fiction that inspired this, The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld, sounds interesting too.

Next up is City of Bones, and I may face my fears and make a start on the massive and scary It, as it'll probably take a little longer than a week to get through, so I probably shouldn't leave it until week 45.


message 13: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 2 finished:

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare was a book from the first 10 books added to your To Be Read list .

This is the kind of book I loved a few years ago, and I still enjoyed it but not so much as I think I would have if I'd read it when it was first out. Definitely appreciate that she didn't go the obvious route with a few things though, and I'll be looking to work the next in the series into my plan next year.

I've also started my intimidating read. I have a friend who wants to get back into the reading habit, we're reading It at the same time, so I can push her along, kind of like a personal trainer for books. Our goal for this weekend was to read Chapter 3, and I finished that up this morning.

Next up it's decision time, and I've got to say "Argh!!!!". I like that I normally just look at my plan and pick up the next thing. But now I've got a choice to make - I own both The Hate U Give and The Keeper of Lost Things, and they were both nominated for the Goodreads Awards. If I choose The Hate U Give, I'll want to read it for the group's February book of the month, but I wanted to try and read in order this year, which would mean The Keeper of Lost Things.

I'm going to watch the movie version of City of Bones now, which I suspect I'll hate, but at least it'll give my subconscious some time to decide between reading with the group and reading in order.


message 14: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments My need for order wins, so it's The Keeper of Lost Things up next.

The film version of City of Bones was as poor as expected.


message 15: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 3 completed:

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is a book from the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards . I'm glad I chose that one, it's described as a feel good book, and it definitely is. I could easily have read it for the warm atmosphere week. I don't think I needed gritty realism in a book this week. Happy quirkiness was a much better fit. I loved Sunshine, she's a fantastic character who deserves her own book, and I'll think of her every time I make "the lovely cup of tea" (which I might have to do now I've thought about it). The movie references that link in with the story were clever, and it's left me with a need to watch One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest again.

I'm up to 25% on It, which is proving a lot less scary and intimidating than expected, so far at least. We're setting a pretty steady pace, though it's a little frustrating having to stop at the agreed point - I've not done this type of reading only a set amount at a time since school, and those books were almost all terrible so it didn't matter to me.

Next I have the first of the four elements books - Earth. Holes is fairly short and I think it's a YA (my third this year) so hopefully I'll be able to keep up the early pace.


message 16: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments Holes is great! A nice quick read, that I enjoyed way more than I’d anticipated. I hope you like it!


message 17: by Anna (new)

Anna | 977 comments Marie wrote: "My need for order wins, so it's The Keeper of Lost Things up next.

The film version of City of Bones was as poor as expected."


I liked the book much better than the movie too! Unfortunately the series went down after the first 2-3 books. :)


message 18: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Anna wrote: "I liked the book much better than the movie too! Unfortunately the series went down after the first 2-3 books. :) "

I already have the next two books in the series, but I think I'll hold off getting the rest then. I'm not likely to get chance to read them for a while anyway.


message 19: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 4 finished:

Holes (Holes, #1) by Louis Sachar

and it's only the end of Week 2!

Holes by Louis Sachar was the first of the four books linked by the four elements: Earth . It was a perfect fit for earth - there's so much of it in this story! It's a really enjoyable read, and great for a happy weekend. I didn't feel like I was reading a children's book, even though the characters are young, and it reminds me a lot of Carl Hiaasen's YA books (which I love).

My other book with a Stanley, It also has similarities to Holes at the point I'm at in the story. I know it won't stay this way, but I'm enjoying the calm before the storm, with the characters becoming friends and having fun.

Next up it's getting dark - Child 44 is almost definitely not going to be a light and happy read! Not exactly going to balance out It, but I'm optimistic I'll enjoy it.


message 20: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 5 complete:

Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1) by Tom Rob Smith

For a book about or inspired by real events I read Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I chose it because I read that it was inspired by serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, having finished it, it's also about life in post-war Russia. It's a decent book, though it seemed like that first half was all background and build up and there were a few things that were a bit too convenient and coincidental.

There's a movie for this one too, so I'll be reducing my Netflix to watch list as well as my TBR.

I've slowed up a bit, taking a full week to read Child 44, but I just hit 50% on the not as intimidating as expected It, so I'm still progressing pretty well.

Sticking with the crime novels this week, with Snowblind for my translated book.


message 21: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 6 finished:

Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson

For a book originally written in a language other than English I read Snowblind, written by Ragnar Jónasson, translated from Icelandic to English by Quentin Bates. It was enjoyable, and definitely did well in getting things in place to start the Dark Iceland series. Though considering how low the violent crime rate is in Iceland, I'm interested to see where he goes with a series about a police officer in a small town in the isolated north of the country.

I wonder how much credit should go to the translator, there must be so many points where he had several ways he could've interpreted the original text, especially when describing the scenery and the weather, which made the town of Siglufjörður come to life so well. I've added one of the translator's books to my "to get" list, so I can compare the two.

Still progressing steadily with It, almost two thirds of the way through now. It's going so much quicker than expected.

Next up is the gothic book. Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors and she described her Cainsville series as Modern Gothic, so I'm trusting her to know her genres and starting it with Omens. Really looking forward to this one.


message 22: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 7 finished yesterday:

Omens (Cainsville, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong's Omens was, according to the author a gothic novel. I'm not sure what made it gothic - there's a lot of gargoyles, creepy birds and some weird old people, is that gothic? It was very enjoyable anyway, and I'm excited to keep going with the series. It also left me with a craving for scones, so thanks for that Kelley! I'm clearly easily influenced by mention of food in books.

Up to 73% of It, even though we've slowed the pace to one chapter every two days. This read-along thing can be a little frustrating when your reading partner goes on holiday.

I started Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe as soon as I finished my It chapter yesterday, and I liked it right from the beginning, although the story has barely gotten started. There's going to be no trouble keeping the pace up with this one.


message 23: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 8 done:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

An "own voices" book was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I have mixed feelings about this book - I enjoyed it, the characters were interesting, the story was interesting, but it felt too idealised for me. Without getting spoilery, I can't believe that any teenage boys in that situation had it that easy in the 1980s.

Still plodding away with It, things are finally happening, 200 pages from the end. So far, I prefer the recent movie, but there's still time for the book to beat it.

My next book is Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, so I'll be able to do a father-son comparison.

Even though I'm a bit ahead with the challenge, my mission to reduce the TBR this year is not going well. So far this year I've read eight books for ATY, plus one side read (Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, which never made it to the TBR and was from Open Library, so doesn't really count).

On the other side of the scales, last weekend I picked up three books when I was on trip away, and yesterday I went to The Barn for the first time since last October and had a massive 13 book binge. So that's 16 books added to the pile and only eight taken off it. Doom!


message 24: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 45 finished:

It by Stephen King

This is, hopefully, the only time I'll read out of order this year. For A book that intimidates/scares you I read It by Stephen King.

The length of this book was fairly intimidating (1,376 pages on my kindle edition), which is why I started so early in the year and read out of order. I'm amazed to have finished so soon.

The main reason I chose It was that I'd actually been scared out of reading it back in my teens, when I loved reading horror. I gave up after the famous opening scene, literally too intimidated to continue. So it feels good to have stood up to It and won, a little bit over 27 years later!

But that's the only real satisfaction I got from this book - it was a huge disappointment. I did a read-along with a friend who doesn't usually read, the slow pace of reading as little as a chapter every two days may have kept me from getting into the story, but I don't think so - I never had any urge to carry on past our agreed number of pages. It just wasn't scary. It was gross in places, and towards the end it got a little better, but I still didn't really care what happened.

The main thing I'll take away from this is one scene that was totally inappropriate and unnecessary. Since finishing I've done a bit of googling to find out if King is at all regretful of including it and apparently he isn't. He says "times were different then". I disagree, I'm pretty sure I would've felt it was just as wrong if I'd managed to finish the book back then as I do now.

I'm just about to hit halfway on Heart-Shaped Box - I'm finding Joe Hill to be a better writer than his dad was when writing It. Maybe it's just general standards of writing that have changed since the 1980s.


message 25: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 9 completed:

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill was a book with a body part in the title . I'm not sure if I can say I enjoyed this one, but it was definitely well-written. I felt a kind of low-level anxiety the whole way through, which is what I'd expect from a good horror book.

Next is the debut, The Name of the Wind. It looks pretty long, so it's likely to take longer than a week. Lucky that I've got a little cushion built up.


message 26: by Marie (last edited Mar 04, 2018 03:02PM) (new)

Marie | 706 comments Finished Week 10 yesterday:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

I'm amazed that The Name of the Wind is the first novel by Patrick Rothfuss, it's so good. But I've checked and re-checked and it's definitely an author's debut book . Though honestly I wouldn't be surprised if someone tells me that he'd been publishing under a different name for a years before this came out.

Thanks to bad weather wiping out my plans for the weekend I managed to get through the final quarter of that, and I'm almost a quarter into the next on my list, A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's already living up to that expectations set last year by The Kite Runner.


message 27: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 11 done:

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A literary fiction was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This was so good, but soooooo sad :(

I don't want to dwell on it too much, it's horrible knowing that even though it's not a true story there are so many women whose lives are like this. Makes me angry and sad at the same time. So straight onto the next one, hopefully the lovely Trevor Noah will cheer me up, though from the title Born a Crime I'm guessing I might still be angry.


message 28: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 12 only took three days:

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah as a book set in Africa or South America . It was enjoyable and very interesting, not as funny as I expected, but I think it really fit the spirit of this prompt as I learned a lot about life in South Africa.

Next up is Pines, which hopefully has a plot centred around a secret. I've also started re-reading Pyramids. It's not a challenge book, but today is the third anniversary of Terry Pratchett's death, so this is a happy way to remember him.


message 29: by Anna (new)

Anna | 977 comments Marie wrote: "Week 3 completed:

The Keeper of Lost Things


I loved Sunshine too, and plan on either watching or re-reading One Flew over the Cockoo's Nest.


message 30: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Anna wrote: "Marie wrote: "Week 3 completed:

The Keeper of Lost Things

I loved Sunshine too, and plan on either watching or re-reading One Flew over the Cockoo's Nest."


I re-watched the movie, it was a lot more upsetting than I remembered. I might have to give the book a go, but I'm resisting adding it to my list for now.


message 31: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Finished week 13 on Sunday:

Pines (Wayward Pines, #1) by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch's Pines definitely fit the prompt a book with a plot centered around a secret, I'm interested to see how the series continues now that we know what that secret is. That's another book I have to get into my 2019 challenge! I enjoyed reading the author's afterword on how he was inspired to write by watching Twin Peaks back in the 1990s and needing to finish the story when the show was cancelled.

I'm now on to the next on the list - Catching Fire and so far I'm loving it as much as the first one.


message 32: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 14 done:

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins

This was one of the 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #2 Fire and I uninventively went for Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

This is where the Planning Life encounters a problem - I want nothing more this afternoon than to start on Mockingjay, but not only is it not next on the plan, it's not on the 2018 plan at all :( I'm surprised by how much I love these books, and the characters, especially as I found the first movie at bit "meh" and didn't bother with the rest.

So that's another book to add to the 2019 Plan, even though we've not even started working out the prompts yet! I think I've got at least half a dozen to fit in, just inspired by this year's reading so far.

Next up is The Princess Bride. I need to take my time with this one, as I'm away next weekend and don't want to have to take my next book, which is hardback. I hate hardbacks, why does anyone want to lug around a big heavy thing that has nothing extra to give, apart from improving the arm muscles?!


message 33: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 15 complete:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

William Goldman's The Princess Bride was definitely a book with an unique format/writing structure but as I said over in the Weekly Topic section, I think that might be because the unique idea wasn't a very good one! There's two stories in here - the story of a writer abridging a book written by someone else, and the abridged version of that book. It switches between the two, which means each story is continually interrupted. It was annoying. Also, since I've got the 25th anniversary addition, I think I ended up with more of the "writer's story" side of it, which was the duller part.

It's a long time since I watched the film, so I'm going to re-watch. I remember it being really good, hopefully I still think that and this will go on the list of films that I prefer to the book.

I read the prologue for The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain last night and it's already made me laugh more than the whole of The Princess Bride. I expect to fly through this one and keep myself a little bit ahead in the challenge.


message 34: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Finished week 16 yesterday:

The Road to Little Dribbling Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

It took some figuring out to find something for this prompt - I didn't even know what it meant before it was chosen for the list, but I'm pretty confident The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson qualifies as a narrative nonfiction.

Bill Bryson used to be one of my favourites, but I'm a bit torn with this one. Some of it was very funny, other parts really interesting, but I found myself getting very annoyed with him quite often, and at least one of the "facts" he gives I'm 99% certain is wrong, which makes me doubt everything he's ever said. I even started making notes of what was wrong, but it'll turn into too big a rant so I'm going to try to move past it. Hopefully I can relax enough to enjoy (and believe) Down Under later in the year.

I've just started on The Casual Vacancy. I was surprised to see that it's over 600 pages long, hopefully it's a decent read or that's going to be hard work. It seems to be set in the kind of place that Bill Bryson would love. Still not convinced it will make me laugh, but the quote on the front does say it's funny so fingers crossed.


message 35: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Turcios | 1071 comments Why do you think The Casual Vacancy will make you laugh? Maybe some could consider it as a comedy because the social criticism, but actually it broke my heart.


message 36: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments There's a quote from a review on the front of my copy that says "A deeply moving book....Big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, very upsetting, and magnificently eloquent....". If it's funny at any point then there's a good chance it will make me laugh.

I don't expect it to be a comedy, but I only need one laugh and the prompt is satisfied. J. K. Rowling can make me laugh with a few characters on twitter, so I'd guess there's a very good chance of it with a 639 page novel.


message 37: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 17 finished in seven days:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Originally, I think this category was "a book that makes you laugh", but it got altered to a book you expect to make you laugh . Since these are two different things I wanted to make sure to do them both with The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I also liked the idea of choosing a book that wasn't an obvious comedy.

My expectation of laughter came, as I explained earlier in the week, from the quote on the front of the book and my knowledge of the author, and back in October or November or whenever I was pulling my list together I did googling to see where I could make this fit as I wanted to read it this year. There are reviews that say it's funny, so I feel safe for the official prompt. I was expecting one of those serious books that has a few bits of dialogue every now and then that make me laugh, but I only got one genuine laugh out loud moment - page 302 in my copy, Fats and Arf are having a conversation without listening to each. There are a couple of other moments that made me smile, but this was the only laugh. Still, I think that counts for the original prompt too.

Apart from that I found the book a bit average - it reminded me of the kind of thing my mum watches on the BBC on a Sunday evening. Harmless and vaguely interesting, but nothing that would motivate me to choose to watch it in the absence of being fed a Sunday Roast. Still I'd be up for a sequel where Harriet's mum gets her comeuppance. I hated Harriet's mum.

I went straight into Looking for Alaska with barely a break. So far it's living up to the John Green standards.


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Marie | 706 comments Week 18 done:

Looking for Alaska by John Green

A book with a location in the title was a good excuse to fit in Looking for Alaska by John Green. So far I've loved everything I've read by John Green and this is no exception. I don't care if it's supposed to be teen fiction, it's so well written with some beautiful phrases and great characters.

It did occur to me whilst reading this that I seem to be subconsciously stretching out reading John Green's books - normally when I find an author I like I binge their back catalogue as quickly as I can. I own (I think) all of his books, but I've been very carefully rationing them to one a year - but not on purpose. Weird.

I started The Last Child just before bed last night. Probably not the best idea, the Prologue was quite upsetting.


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Marie | 706 comments Week 19 finished:

The Last Child by John Hart

This one was a book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand master author, The Last Child by John Hart. I really enjoyed it, a mystery/thriller with just the right balance of predictability and unpredictability and some interesting characters. I can see why it was an award winner, the way it deals with the emotional impact of a missing child as well as the "action" part of the search.

Next up Everything Is Illuminated. I don't remember why I bought this book, and I don't know what it's about. There's one reason it's on my list this year - it's the only book I had that one of my friends has rated five stars, that I haven't already read.


message 40: by Marie (last edited May 02, 2018 12:55PM) (new)

Marie | 706 comments It felt never-ending, but Week 20 is ended:

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

If I wasn't reading Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer for the challenge, I would never have finished. Even with it being in my plan, if there were any other books that would fit for a book rated 5 stars by at least one of your friends I probably would've ditched this. But it was the only book I owned, that I haven't already read, that one of my friends had rated five stars, so I was stuck with it. I absolutely hated it, start to finish. But it's over, so happy days!

Weird coincidental link between this one and the last book I read - both have a character with an arm that doesn't work.

Next I've got Written in Dead Wax, which is hopefully written in first person (the beginning was when I checked last year). I found out about this when I was looking for something for last year's challenge to fit the prompt for something recommended by one of your favourite authors. I didn't really like the book I ended up reading for that prompt, but hopefully I'll have more luck with this one.


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Marie | 706 comments It took longer than a week, but week 21 is now done:

Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

Andrew Cartmel's Written in Dead Wax was so written in first person perspective that I don't even know the name of the main character! I really enjoyed it, the only reason it took two weeks to read was other fun stuff got in the way in real life. The concept is great, I loved the vinyl detecting and hope the series sticks to that as the main plot, rather than using it as an excuse for murder investigations like most mystery novels do. Finding missing stuff is just as interesting as finding murderers, and a lot rarer.

I overlapped a little bit, as I was eager to get started on The Silkworm. It's a massive hardback, I'll have huge arm muscles when I've finished this one.


message 42: by Marie (last edited May 21, 2018 10:56AM) (new)

Marie | 706 comments Week 22 finished on Sunday evening:

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2) by Robert Galbraith

After reading the first in the series last year, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith was definitely a book I had high expectations or hope for and those expectations were definitely met. I love this series, I'm very excited to read the next one in a few weeks, and apparently number four will be published this year so I might even sneak that in for week 52 (I doubt I'll be able to pick up a bargain priced copy, but there's a slim chance the library might get it).

Up next is my legal thriller, I'm not sure what I'm expecting from this. I've read some John Grisham before, but the only one I can remember was non-fiction. He must be good though, or he wouldn't be so popular?

I'm not succeeding in this year's aim of reducing the TBR - it's been a few weeks since my last trip to The Barn (February, from what I've posted here), but I cracked on Saturday and had another binge. Only seven books found on my treasure hunt this time though:

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar A Memoir by Chris Packham Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka Sea Change (Jesse Stone Series) by Robert B. Parker The Dry by Jane Harper The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

I can't wait for June, when we start on 2019's prompts, so I can start fitting some of these into my plan!


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Marie | 706 comments Week 23 finished yesterday:

The Last Juror by John Grisham

I don't know why I had a copy of The Last Juror by John Grisham. It's not a genre I normally read, and if we hadn't had the prompt a medical or legal thriller I might never have gotten around to reading it. I really, really enjoyed it, which was totally unexpected. It's told from the point of view of the owner/editor/chief reporter of a small town newspaper and the focus is more on him and the newspaper than the trial, which makes it very interesting. It also reads a little like it's a true story, I kept having the urge to google things even though I knew it was fictional.

Next up is a book by one of my favourite twitter people (twitterers? tweeters?), Sam Sykes. I've never read any of his books, but he's so funny and inventive on twitter that this could easily have fit for a book you expect to make you laugh, or have high hopes for.


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Marie | 706 comments Week 24 took over two weeks!

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes was a book with a map, though it was just a map of the city and wasn't really relevant to the story.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this, I definitely enjoyed it, it was exciting and funny with some interesting characters. It was almost 600 pages in a hardback the size of a large brick, so it was mostly read on the sofa, maybe that's what slowed me up.

I did cheat slightly and start week 25 last weekend, as I was away and didn't want to lug the monster around in my backpack for two days. Being able to read on my phone is a massive bonus when I'm travelling.


message 45: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments And week 25 sneakily finished at work:

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I read I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells for a book with an antagonist/villain point of view and it was definitely that, though in a good way. I'm not sure I should have liked the main character as much as I did, but considering how many times I've typed the phrase "I am not a serial killer" while preparing my reading plan, it probably doesn't matter - I'll be on a specialist list somewhere anyway!

There are some sequels, so they've gone on my "to get" list, and will eventually increase the TBR. I should try to read more standalone books by one-time authors, or that thing will never get smaller.


message 46: by Marie (last edited Jun 14, 2018 08:04AM) (new)

Marie | 706 comments Big celebration at this point, as I've reached 26 books since I read slightly out of order and did week 45 early. Yay for making it halfway a bit early :)


message 47: by Anna (new)

Anna | 977 comments Congratulations, Marie! :)


message 48: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 704 comments Way to go, Marie! Glad you enjoyed the Grisham. A lot of people were leery of the legal/medical thriller prompt, but those books (especially early grisham thrillers) are usually fun easy reads!


message 49: by Marie (new)

Marie | 706 comments Tammy wrote: "Way to go, Marie! Glad you enjoyed the Grisham. A lot of people were leery of the legal/medical thriller prompt, but those books (especially early grisham thrillers) are usually fun easy reads!"

I was one of those people! I think I got lucky with that Grisham, it's big on characters and low on action, which isn't usual for the thrillers I've read before. I loved the sleepy town full of eccentrics, and also his rants about chopping down trees and destroying old town centres by allowing out of town developments. It wasn't what I expected, but it felt very real.


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Marie | 706 comments Week 26 finished:

X (Kinsey Millhone, #24) by Sue Grafton

I've had a mini grump in the Weekly Topics section about this, one of my biggest irritations with kindle happened with this book, which is supposed to be a book with a text only cover. When I bought Sue Grafton's X, the cover looked like the picture above, when I put it in my plan for this year it still looked like that picture, but when it came time to read it, it looked like this:

X (Kinsey Millhone, #24) by Sue Grafton

I'm still counting it for this prompt, but it drives me nuts. Why can't my book stay the way it was when I bought it?! Stopping messing with my books Amazon. I especially hate when it updates to a movie tie-in cover.

So that's me grumpily onto the next book, which has a movie tie-in cover, but at least that was like that when I bought it, Matt Damon's face didn't magically appear overnight.


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