Book Review Reading Challenge

Goodreads Goal Catch Up Challenge | A Weekend of Reading

What started out as a 24 hour reading challenge turned into a challenge to catch up to my Goodreads goal.

Why? How?

Well, this is the journey.

As I’m writing this it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’ve just finished my first book.

I’ve seen the 24 hour reading challenge all over YouTube, but never in a blog. Which I understand, it’s much easier to give real time updates about what you’re reading, and the thoughts you have while reading, on camera. Plus on camera it’s most likely more entertaining.

I’ve tried to document this challenge by video in the past, but I always get tired or look / feel / sound groggy. Plus, I’m always whispering so as not to wake my household.

I’ve done them on my own however, this time I want to experiment. I want to try writing about my experience and my thoughts on what I read.

Yes, this will cut into my reading time but it might be fun. 

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

“Following the rules didn’t make you a good person, just like breaking them didn’t make you a bad one, but it could make you an invisible person, and invisible people got to do as they liked.”

As I said, it’s the early hours of the morning and I’ve finished my first book.

In An Absent Dream is the fourth book in The Wayward Children series, which I adore.

These books are pure escapism, and I think this one might be my favourite so far in the series. Each book is devastating in its own way, but that only seems to add to their beauty.

The Wayward Children series follows different characters each time. In the first book, Every Heart a Doorway, we are introduced to most of these characters. Each of the sequels and prequels provide a different characters own story.

You see, this series is about children who don’t necessarily fit in – not at home and not in the world. Perhaps they feel they don’t have a place there, or that the people around them don’t understand them. 

Some of these children find doors. Doors which, upon opening, they will find a world where they are understood and accepted. Where they finally feel at home.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, sometimes those worlds can also reject them. Perhaps they made fatal mistake or perhaps there was some misunderstanding. Either way, there is no going back.

These stories are beautifully written and filled with imagination and wonder. They are enchanting and I love them dearly.

It is now 4am, and it’s time for the next read.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

6:30 am and I’ve completed my second book. I’m also quite tired and debating on whether a nap would be out of the question.

I’m sure we all know the story of Matilda. A young, extraordinary girl is brought up in an unloving household. Constantly brought down and neglected by her parents, she found a comfort in books. Upon starting school she learns of her incredible gifts, outside of the world of academia.

I’ve read some Roald Dahl books growing up however, I’d never read Matilda. Which is a travesty. A young girl who loves books and has seemingly ‘supernatural’ gifts – sign me up!

Interestingly enough the book seems much more simple than the film. The film had a lot of additional scenes which I remember and love. It’s usually the other way around and, maybe because I’ve watched the movie since I was a kid, I believe I like the changes made and the additional pieces to the story.

I’m tempted to re-watch this one.

Although this seemed to happen at a slower pace in the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s clear it’s written for kids however, it doesn’t dumb itself down. The characters are outrageous, some of them almost caricatures, but that’s what makes them so memorable.

I was surprised by some of the topics discussed within the story. It mentioned suicide, abuse, living situations. It never goes too deep, but I was surprised they were mentioned all the same.

Overall, this is a wonderful story and I’m very glad to have finally read them. 

It’s now 7am…

What Happens Next..

If you’re only interested in books, I’d skip to the next section!

… After that, well I didn’t mean to but I fell asleep. So much for that.

I do want to continue. It isn’t unheard of to sleep during a 24 hour challenge, and perhaps I should have tried it after a nights sleep. 

Either way, today is a not-so brand new day and nevertheless, I’m picking another book.

I started reading The Woman in the Window and got 71 pages in when I wanted to feel like a human being again, after the late night, so got ready for the day.

I was about to start my book again when I found a wasp in my room. It’s common around this time because it’s warm and I like to keep my window open. 

With some help it was out of my room. It was then my family reminded me I’d promised to cook Makaronia tou Fournou (Pastitsio). That was around 2pm.

Clearly this is the wrong day to do a 24 hours of reading challenge. Plus I’d already slept, so I failed anyway. 

I cooked. It’s currently in the oven. The prep shouldn’t normally have taken so long but I’m out of practice with the dish, so it’s taken me about 2 hours. 

Now I’m wondering, how do I salvage my readathon. 

I think instead of a 24 hour challenge, I’m going to instead spend the weekend trying to catch up on my Goodreads goal.

According to Goodreads, I’m now 4 books behind schedule. Only two weeks ago I was 16 books behind, so that’s a pleasant surprise.

Now to continue my current read.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

I’m less than 200 pages in and I’m getting antsy. This happens with some thrillers. Some will grasp my attention and keep my enthralled from first page to last. Whereas others, I want to skip all the filler and just get to the end to figure out if I’m right.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either type. 

I do hope however, the plot twist isn’t as obvious as it seems.

“If I don’t want to die I’ve got to start living”

11:30pm and I’m finally finished. 

I must admit this was a struggle to get through. It was interesting for the most part, but a lot of it was so obvious I started to lose interest.

This book has 447 pages. Page 329, when our main character finally acknowledges what we already know – after that is when it starts to get interesting, because as much as we know how unreliable she is, we also know she’s telling the truth. She just doesn’t have all the pieces to the jigsaw.

The plot twists which were a surprise were interesting, but unfortunately not mind blowing.

The Woman in the Window follows Dr Anna Fox. An agoraphobic psychologist, she spends her days in her New York City home drinking, watching old movies and spying on her neighbours. 

One day whilst at home she hears a scream from the house across the road. The Russell’s house which contains a mother, father and teenage son. Unable to rely on her own memories, can she say for sure what happened that night? Can she trust the friendly neighbours who just moved in across the street?

To be completely honest, I think I’m finding the whole ‘alcoholic woman sees something and no-one believes her’ storyline a bit stale. The alcoholic, unreliable narrator feels like it’s a common theme and, while some people may love that, I find it slightly repetitive. 

All in all, I liked the book and I’m glad I read it. It was an enjoyable read towards the end.

Username: Evie by Joe Sugg

“Hey, there! Yes, YOU! Welcome to the neighbourhood…”

I want to continue reading but The Woman in the Window was quite heavy. 

I have Username: Evie by Joe Sugg, and I’ve found there’s an audiobook too. 

I’ve never listened to a fictional audiobook, nor have I read a Graphic Novel. I’ve heard that listening to a book while reading it is a very immersive experience, so I’m going to give it a go.

OK, so I wouldn’t recommend reading and listening at the same time for this one. Pages are skipped and there’s additional dialogue – which I believe makes sense because with an audiobook you can’t use the pictures within the Graphic Novel as a frame of reference.

Although this happened throughout, I enjoyed the story. It wasn’t too complicated, but it’s exactly what I was looking for after The Woman in the Window. Plus, it had a really nice message. In a note before the book starts the author says he wanted to incorporate the things his young viewers deal with on a day-to-day basis. 

Username: Evie follows a young girl named Evie who struggles to fit in, make friends and socialise at school. Before passing away her Dad creates a virtual world, just for her, called E.scape. Her father wasn’t able to complete the world and therefore he programmed it so that the world would continue to grow from Evie’s influence. 

However, someone else manages to get into the virtual world too, and what happens when their influence is much more sinister?

I enjoyed that the characters were able to access the virtual world E.scape through the screen. Although it was never stated how this was possible, I thought it was a good play on real life and how we’re all absorbed by the screens and virtual world around us.

I don’t have much experience with Graphic Novels. I will say I don’t think there was a lot of world building or character development, but maybe we’re supposed to rely on the imagery? 

All in all this was a very enjoyable experience. 

Dream More by Dolly Parton

“I make a point to appreciate all the little things in my life, I go out and smell the air after a good, hard rain. I re-read passages from my favourite books, I hold the little treasures that somebody special gave me. These small actions help remind me that there are so many great, glorious pieces of good in the world.”

I listened to this last night before I fell asleep. 

Perhaps it’s because I binged Hannah Montana on Disney Plus recently, where she made a couple of cameos, but I’ve been wanting to learn more about her.

Especially since I’ve seen so many great quotes from her over the years.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!”

If I put in all of the ones I liked this post would never end.

I find her very refreshing.

I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author, and it is brilliant.

It contains some anecdotes from her life and some advice. She sings occasionally throughout and I just found it so entertaining and inspiring.

More than that, I can envision this being something I will re-read, which is rare for an audiobook. 

There’s so much I never knew about her and it only makes me want to learn more. 

All in all if you are a fan of Dolly Parton, or are looking for something entertaining and inspirational, read it. It’s not very long but the words within are excellent. 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I’ve wanted to read this book for so long. I’m apprehensive, because I’m starting a new series when I’m in the middle of so many others. I love reading books in a series but I always worry that the next won’t be as good as the first (looking at you Insurgent and Allegiant). 

I’m also concerned because I’ve heard mixed reviews… even though I’ve bought the whole series.

Neither of those are good excuses, so here we go.

“There’s nothing better than a little danger dashed with some romance.”

OK, OK, OK. Calm. Breathe. Centre.

I Loved This.

If you look at my Goodreads, you’ll see I gave this 5 stars.

I went back and forth because to me, it became clear who Jack the Ripper was within the first 100 pages. 

Figuring anything out soon is usually a pet peeve of mine. It happened with The Woman in The Window, it happened with The Girl on the Train. I sound like such a hypocrite but let me continue.

I think because those books had one focus – the mystery. Whereas this book had a lot more going on. Such as her father’s addiction, her relationship with her father, brother and Uncle. And of course, her back and forth with Thomas Cresswell, which I very much enjoyed. 

Essentially, I was thoroughly entertained the entire way through. 

In Stalking Jack the Ripper we follow Audrey Rose. A young woman who, according to her peers, should be concerned with high tea and petticoats however, she is far more fascinated with her uncles work in science. Ultimately, she wishes to follow in her uncles line of work as a Forensic Pathologist.

“Just because I studied cadavers didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate beautiful garments”

“Pretend I am as capable as a man? Please, sir, do not value me so little!”

When Jack the Ripper’s victims are brought to her uncles laboratory she, along with her uncle and Mr Thomas Cresswell, must investigate before he kills anyone else.

Keri Maniscalco uses the names, places and dates of the real victims and events of this time. Some, she stated in her notes at the end of the book, she embellished in order to ensure it made sense within her story, but it was fascinating.

All in all I absolutely adored this story and cannot wait to continue in the series.

Wrap Up

With that, my friends, I can officially say that I am 

(drumroll please!)

On Track!!

Here’s hoping I remain on track for the rest of the year. 

So, what started out as a failed 24 hour reading challenge became a successful and enjoyable weekend of reading.

I’d like to do something like this again soon. Also I want another shot at the original challenge. 

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