Tuesday, 10 February 2015

2015 Reading Resolutions

I know it's a bit late into the year to be thinking about new years resolutions but I thought that I would write this post anyway as an incentive for me to stick to these goals.

My first resolution is to read 60 books this year and I have set my Goodreads challenge to this goal although I am praying that I will pass it. Last year, I think I managed to read 92 books, surpassing my Goodreads of 50 by miles (causing me to increase it a fair few times, finally up to 90) which I am so pleased with. However this year, I have a lot more school work that I unfortunately have to prioritise - what with coursework deadlines being terrifyingly soon, GCSE exams coming up in the next few months, as well starting my AS Levels at the end of this year - so reading that many books again this year doesm't really seem feasible, especially if I want to continue making time for blogging. 60 books still seems like its going to be quite a push considering how much I am struggling to make time already but I have a long summer break this year (about 12 weeks or so) so hopefully I can get in 20+ books during that time which will help massively.

This year, I am also aiming to complete the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge which, if you don't already know, is basically a list of 50 different reading-related challenges to complete in 2015. It seems like a really fun, motivating way to read and has some really interesting challenges - some of my favourite ones are: read a book with an antonym in the title; a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit; a banned book. If you are interested you can find a list of all the challenges, some of the books that I am planning to read for them and my progress here.

Another one of my goals is to read at least 12 books from The BBC the Big Read. This is a list of 100 books to read before you die, as voted by the British public, and I started working my way through them last year (although luckily I had already read a few of them before I found the list). I'm not doing too badly but it is taking me a while and ideally I would have a few more crossed off - hopefully setting this as a goal will keep me motivated. You can view the list of books, as well as see my progress here.

I have so many unfinished series, as well as a lot of other books that I really want to read this year. For this reason, I have set myself the challenge to finish at least five series this year. I also want to take part in a lot more read-a-thons to motivate me to read, have fun and give me a chance to get around to all the books that are high up on my to-read list.

As my final reading resolution, I have set myself five books to complete this year. They are all books that I really want to read, and have for a while but have either simply never got round to or am slightly imitated by. The first book, and probably the one that I most want to read this year is A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. This book is huge meaning that it kind of terrifies me but I desperately want to read it because it just sounds so amazing as I am sure you know... and because I want to watch the TV show but feel like I should read it first. I also really want to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, one that has been on my must-read list for what feels like forever; The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson simply because it sounds amazing and has had soo much hype; Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler because it is a book that I have wanted to read for so long (I actually think it is one of the first books I ever added to my Amazon wish list and yet I still haven't got round to it...why do I do this?!); and finally Emma by Jane Austen because.. well, it's Jane Austen - how could I not read at least one of her books this year.

I hope you enjoyed this post regardless of the fact that it's sort of a scrambling, rambling mess and long overdue. What are your reading resolutions for 2015?

Love Ellen xxx

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Saturday, 7 February 2015

January Reads

I only read three books this month which I am really disappointing with because I normally read at least twice that amount. School has been so busy this month - I have so much work to do and I feel like the load is only going to increase which means less reading for me...don't know how I will be able to bear it.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This children's classic tells the story of a horse's own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails against animal maltreatment. Young readers will follow Black Beauty's fortunes, good and bad with gentle masters as well as cruel. 

For me this book had its highs and its lows. I thought that the premise of narrating from the point of view of the horse was a really nice touch and I really appreciate it as an easy and simple children's story because of the important themes about animals as well as the simple but deeper meaning and symbolism that was still there - something which I really liked. I also felt that the writing style was well-suited for a children's book and managed to capture the voice of Black Beauty and the feel of the story. However, reading it as a teenager/young adult (or whatever I am classed as at this age..who really knows) at times it felt quite slow and a little boring, making it hard to get through. I was either already in a reading slump going into this story, or this novel put me in on; its hard to tell but I suspect the second. While I really appreciated the premise of the story and what it is as a children's book and I am glad that I read it, I didn't enjoy reading it that much and wish I had read it either when I was younger or to a younger person.

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Set during the Second World War, Tom Oakley - an elderly and unsociable widower - finds himself with a young evacuee on his hands. Willie is a sickly, under-nourished and ill-treated London child, but he flourishes in Tom's care into healthy, happy and talented boy. He makes friends for the first time, and is surprised to find that he soon forgets to be homesick, as there  is always so much to do in the village. This story traces the beautiful and profound relationship that develops between Tom and Willie.

This was a favourite throughout my childhood that I read countless times so I thought that it was about time that I read it again and it was just as good as I remember it. Goodnight Mister Tom is both heart-breaking and warming and the writing is amazing - it is raw and honest, while capturing the story perfectly and making you really feel. For me, what always stand out the most in this story are the emotions and the characters, The realm of emotions that this book induces is epic and harsh and inspiring, it is truly a beautiful read. Not only this but the characters are spectacular - so real and flawed with fantastic character development. This book is a must-read.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A collection of 13 Sherlock Holmes stories, following the "death" of Sherlock Holmes and his return to London thereafter. 

Everyone knows what Sherlock Holmes is briefly about and I really advise reading the books if you like the BBC mini series(which if you don't know, is fantastic - Benedict Cumberbatch...need i say more). I am slowly making my way through the whole Sherlock Holmes Collection and only have two full stories and two collections of short stories to go, so I will be sad to finish them because I am really enjoying it so far. The stories are always so interesting and intriguing and I really enjoy reading about Sherlock's investigation methods and quirks as well as Watson's take on it. However, The Return of Sherlock Holmes was not my favourite - I found it less enthralling than the others but, regardless it was still pretty good.

I hope you enjoyed this post and are having a good day. What did you read in January?
Love,  Ellen xxx

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