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Okay, so I am combining my February and March reads to make me look better because my reading in February sucked. In my defence, it took me a long time to get through Olive Kitteridge. Thanks, Mrs Kitteridge!
1. Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel | Frances M Thompson
Challenge Completed: Book of short stories
I had this collection of short stories on my Kindle for a little while, so when I saw this was one of the challenges — it was meant to be! I really enjoyed this collection by fellow blogger, Frankie. Her writing was descriptive but most importantly, interesting. In one way I didn’t want each travel-inspired story to end, but then I also looked forward to seeing who would be the focus of the next. I would recommend this book to everyone, particularly because by purchasing the book you know you are directly supporting Frankie. Check out her blog if you haven’t previously.
Hayley’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars — I couldn’t fault this short story collection. It was perfectly inspirational.
2. Olive Kitteridge: Fiction | Elizabeth Strout
Challenge Completed: Pulitzer Prize-winning book
I was originally going to read The Road for this specific challenge, but then I found Olive Kitteridge sitting on the shelf of a second-hand store for $3, so I obviously had to pick it up. I had only recently heard about this novel as the miniseries of the same name is about to preview on Australia’s answer to cable. But with a cast of Frances McDormand and Bill Murray, I think it is going to be good.
The novel is based around the character of Olive and the different people she interacts with in her small Maine town. It was an interesting structure, which confused me in the beginning but I enjoyed it by the end. It follows Olive life basically from when her son is a teenager to when he is a father. She is intertwined in each chapter, with some being about her specifically. It took me awhile to warm up to Olive, as she is a complex, tough character.
Hayley’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars — not my usual read but an interesting story.
3. The Happiness Show | Catherine Deleny
Challenge Completed: A book based entirely on its cover
I liked this challenge as it was a bit different to the rest. As soon as I saw the love balloon I thought I had to read this book. Turns out Catherine is a controversial Australian comedian, journalist and writer. The story is about an Australian woman and an Englishman who met whilst travelling when they were younger. They then separate but uncannily meet up again once they are both married and have kids, of course. I liked the travel theme as the book takes place not only in Melbourne but London and Bali – three particularly wonderful places.
It is a little bit crude and a whole lot Australian, which I enjoyed. I don’t read enough from fellow Aussies.
Hayley’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars — a fun and quick read.
4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 1) | Cheryl Strayed
Challenge Completed: A book based on a true story
So I was going to read this book for the challenge made into a movie, but I read The Secret Life of Bees for that instead. Never mind, this book is based on a true story so we are still on track. Because of the press surrounding this release, I was sceptical, as always, whether it would live up to the hype. But I actually really enjoyed Strayed’s story: it was raw, honest and most importantly, interesting. I felt like I was walking along the Pacific Crest Trail with her as she spoke in such detail about the trail and the towns along the way.
Hayley’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars — a compelling and well-written true story.
5. The Happiest Refugee: A Memoir | Anh Do
Challenge Completed: A book my mum loves
My mum only reads biographies, but I am glad she chose this one for the challenge because I really enjoyed it. Anh tells his life story in a comical and upbeat way, even if it began with him and his family fleeing Vietnam on a boat and being abused by two pirate ships. Although he didn’t have much growing up, you could tell through his story how appreciative he was of the sacrifices his mum and dad made.
Hayley’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars — a feel-good story.
6. The Alchemist | Paulo Coehlo
Challenge Completed: A book finished in a day
I had heard The Alchemist mentioned so many times that I thought it was probably time for me to read it. It is a short read, but nonetheless thought-provoking and a different sort of tale. I also didn’t see the ending coming — was that just me?
Hayley’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars — I’m glad I discovered what the fuss was about.
7. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1) | Suzanne Collins
Challenge 1/3 Completed: A trilogy
I’m going to let you in on a secret… I like the Hunger Games franchise but petite Peeta is not my favourite character. I am Team Gale all the way! Anyway, I finally read the first book in the trilogy in March and found the book as fast-paced as the movie. I admire Collins for having a strong, female protagonist, which is unusual in young adult science fiction novels. Although I am usually a book-over-film person, I actually think the Hunger Games movie is just as good as the book.
Hayley’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars – it didn’t blow me away but it was still a good story.
8. The Misremembered Man | Christina McKenna
Challenge Completed: A book set in a different country
I read about this book on Amazon when I was purchasing another. It had good reviews so I thought I would give it a go. It was a different story set in Ireland told from two different perspectives: there is Jamie, the farmer who lives alone and Lydia, the teacher who lives with her mother. They are both trying to find a partner and eventually find each other. Unfortunately, I thought the story was too slow for me — I struggled to stay captivated and was willing it to end, which is never a good sign.
Hayley’s Rating: 2 out of 5 stars — a bit of a bore.
What have you read lately?
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