It is with GREAT pleasure that I announce I’ve succeeded in completing my goal of reading 100 books this year!  I’m a bit behind on posting my reviews, but I promise you within the next week I’ll complete them and get on track for the new year! Since I’ve completed my goal of 100 for the year I’ve thought about increasing my goal for 2012 and am thinking of upping the goal to 110.  I’ll post my definite plans tomorrow in my kick-off post, similar to what I did last year.

2011 has been a pretty amazing year of reading for me.  Looking back I’ve read some fascinating memoirs, heartbreaking fiction, and  suspenseful mysteries among other things.  My top ten for the year with links to their reviews are as follows:

  1. Jane Eyre
  2. One Day
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Stardust
  6. The House At Riverton
  7. Lunch in Paris
  8. A Wife For Mr. Darcy
  9. Eat, Pray, Love
  10. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian/The Silent Governess

It was SO difficult to come up with a top ten for the year; I have to pat myself on the back for choosing such a wide array of excellent reads.  I do hope that you’ll tell me what you’ve enjoyed reading this year! There is no better recommendation to read a book than a recommendation from a fellow reader!

In terms of the challenges I signed up for this past year I completed the Historical Fiction Challenge and the Page to Screen Challenge with flying colors.  The Chunkster Challenge continues through January 31, 2012 so I still have a month to finish my last two “mega-chunkster” books.  My Austen challenges I did not do so well on.  I only completed 2 of the Jane Austen mystery novels, and completed 50% of the Sense and Sensibility Challenge.  I’m disappointed that I did so terribly on them, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that I still completed my 100!  I’ve already begun to sign up for 2012 challenges, so make sure you head over to my challenge page to track my progress.

I hope that you will all enjoy the holiday today, checking back in tomorrow to join me on my journey of reading in 2012.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

#24 A Review of The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Cover Image

Australian author Kate Morton popped onto the literary scene in 2007 with her debut novel The House at Riverton.  Having since published two additional internationally acclaimed novels, Morton is now gaining a foothold in the genre of mystery gothic fiction as her stories climb the bestseller lists of the US and UK.  What is mystery gothic fiction, you ask?  In essence, it is the haunting of the present by the past, which is further accompanied by the ideas of haunting (physical and psychological), the mystery of the unseen, deja-vu, and other reincarnations of history that occur in modern times.

At a summer-house party in the mid 1920’s, Grace Bradley, servant to the family at Riverton House, witnesses a suicide that will forever change her life.  The true story behind the event is known only to Grace, and as Grace reflects on her 98 years of life, she can’t help but to think back on the memories of her past.  Thinking back on what she’s witnessed, she realizes that she must pour out her secrets so that she can finally rest and pass away in peace.  A woman named Ursula is making a film about the events of the fateful night, and contacts Grace to consult on the film.  Initially hesitant, Grace eventually agrees and talks to Ursula about Riverton, causing her memories to flood back into sharp focus, and making Grace all the more anxious to tell her story before she leaves this earth.

I need to start off by saying that the book does take a while to take off.  The idea behind the story is awesome, weaving the past and present together until, to Grace, it is indistinguishable.  Once Morton finds the correct pace in switching between the past and present the novel soars.  The last two hundred pages really shine.  The way Grace’s “secrets” are revealed is done in a truly perfect fashion.  The true events are written very gothic and dark, making the reader hungry to know what really happened!  Although Grace obviously regresses throughout the book, her memory of the past is picture perfect, giving the reader an awesome account of the opulence of the roaring twenties.  There are many characters in the novel that each have their own strong qualities that make them stand apart from the others.  In other works, only the main characters do this, yet Morton strays from the beaten path and gives us strong supporting characters as well.  Although the first 100 pages seem slow and uneventful, the multitude of supporting characters fleshes out the plot and the storyline quickens soon after, making the novel irresistable.  Elegant, opulent, and beautifully written, this novel will keep you guessing as to what really happened up until the very end. 

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fourteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Chunkster Challenge

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Simon and Schuster Adult Publishing Group (2009)
Paperback 496 pages
ISBN: 9781416550532

New Year; New Challenges

January 1, 2011.  It’s the official beginning of my new challenge!!  I have 365 days to read 100 books.  I’m partaking in two reading challenges this year (that I’ve signed up for so far) so 11 of those books are the Jane Austen mystery series and 20 of them will be historical fiction novels. I’m excited that I’m mixing it up this year and doing some reading challenges as well.  I think it will help keep me motivated throughout the year. 

I’m really looking forward to some of the titles that I’ve decided to read this year.  I have a very eclectic group to read so far.  Some of the titles include:

  1. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
  2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (It’s the 200 year anniversary of the book this year!)
  3. Little Children by Tom Perrotta
  4. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
  5. V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
  6. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
  7. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs
  8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  10. The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson
  11. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  12. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  13. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  14. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

I have a much bigger list than this, but I’m really looking forward to the specific books above!

So now that my new challenge has begun I would like to encourage you guys to do your own challenges.  You don’t have to read 100 books like I do, but you can do something similar to Todd and try for between 25 and 50.  You are always welcome to post on the blog thoughts about your own reading challenges or about specific books.

If you decide to do a challenge: Good Luck and Happy Reading!