Last year, definitely wasn't my best in terms of reading. Well, that's not entirely true; what I mean to say is last year wasn't my best in terms of reading books. Fiction, or non-fiction. I certainly did my fair share of reading blogs and articles online! I guess that was the issue; I spent so much time blogging, I didn't dedicate enough time to my hobbies off screen in 2013, which is why I only read 13 books in full over the entire year. Pitiful, oh, so pitiful!
Especially considering I'm already half way through my fourth book of the year!
From January until around September or October, I just couldn't find the patience to read. I was too restless to concentrate on what I was reading, so reading was slow. It was only when I began to reread The Hunger Games books on my Kindle in the Autumn that my hunger to read returned, and I whizzed through more than half of the thirteen in a couple of months.
I never did get around to reviewing most of them, so I thought I'd review each book I read in 2013 over a few posts, and then start afresh with this year's reads. I'm splitting the reviews in to three of four posts; with a separate post (perhaps two) for books I read on my Kindle to follow soon.
I read just six 'real' books last year, most of which I picked up cheaply in supermarkets. Today I'm briefly reviewing three of them.
An English Man in Auschwitz by Leon Greenman
Basic Story: An Englishman in Auschwitz is a Holocaust testimony written by English born, Dutch raised Greenman, a Jewish man who remarkably defied the odds and survived life in no less than five Nazi concentration camps. This book is his story, beginning with his childhood and life before the war, before going on to focus on the occupation of Holland, and life in the concentration camps. He talks about life in these camps, the suffering which he and others endured at the hands of the Nazis, and how he survived in the face of real adversity. You can read my full review of the book here.
Thoughts: I went through so many emotions as I read Leon's accounts of life under the Nazi reign, and tears were shed. It was horrifying to read at times, but morbid curiousity kept me turning the pages, willing him to survive. His story is one of the most fascinating Holocaust accounts I've read, and it would be unbelievable if it wasn't true.
Genres: Autobiography, Holocaust Testimony. Rating: 5/5.
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Basic Plot: The year is 1914 and a magnificent ocean liner suffers an explosion en route to New York City. The passengers who are fortunate enough to secure a seat in a lifeboat have abandoned the sinking ship, and the story begins with the passengers of lifeboat 14 distancing themselves from the ill fated vessel. The story follows newly married Grace Hunter and the occupants of lifeboat 14 as they sit side by side in the life boat over the course of three weeks, fighting to stay alive and praying for rescue. It is apparent from the start that the boat is over capacity, and the occupants soon learn what they will do in order to stay alive.
Thoughts: I purchased this book because the blurb shared a few distant similarities to the Titanic tragedy, which is also my favourite film. If the occupants of the Titanic's lifeboats hadn't been rescued hours later, I imagine they could've faced a similar fate to those in lifeboat 14, and at times I did imagine the story to be leading on from the famous sinking. It was hard not to considering the similarities. but it also made it easier for me to imagine the scene. It's hard to believe that a book about a group of people sat in a lifeboat for three weeks could be interesting, but I became extremely engrossed in the story, and devoured it in a couple of sittings. The book is full of twists and turns, strong main characters, (both likeable and unlikeable) and it's well worth a read!
Genre: Adventure. Rating: 5/5.
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
I'm personally not the biggest fan of chick lit... and even less of a fan of Nicholas Sparks' work, as much as I love the movie adaptions of his novels. I read The Notebook years ago, and I don't think I've ever hated a book more in my life. I powered through it, but it was extremely dull. However, I fell so much in love with the movie of Safe Haven last year (well, hello Josh Duhamel!), that I decided to chance the book.
Basic Plot: Erin is trapped in an abusive relationship, and after some careful planning, she finally makes her escape when her husband, Kevin, is away on business. She boards a bus and eventually ends up in a small Southern town (in America), where she starts afresh with a new identity, adopts the name 'Katie', and does her best to lie low. She finds a place to live, gets a job, and saves her wages in case she needs to flee. She is befriended by her elusive neighbour, Jo, and slowly gets closer to a local widower, Alex, and his two children, Josh and Caitlin. All the while, Katie is terrified of being found by her husband- and she knows it's just a matter of time. Her policeman husband will stop at nothing to find her.
Thoughts: It wasn't the best written book I've ever read in my life, but I did enjoy it. It was a pleasant, easy summer read that required little effort and I think at times this is exactly the type of book a girl needs. Unapologetic, simple romance that can be read in a day, while sunbathing on the beach of lounging in the garden on a summer's day.
If you read just one book from this post, I would recommend and urge you to try The Lifeboat.
I hope you've enjoyed these brief book reviews- do you enjoy reading posts like these? Would you like to see more book reviews on the blog in the future? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
I'll be back with some more book reviews next Friday.