The Monkeys Reviewed It’s All About Book’s 2014!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for It’s All About Books! Woohoo! Thanks to everybody that followed my blog, showed support and commented my silly ramblings. You guys simply¬†rock and I’m glad to be a part of this book blogging community!

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I know it’s not midnight yet, but I’m taking this opportunity to wish everybody a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2015! May there always be enough books, health and happiness in all your lives. ūüėÄ

Here’s an excerpt of the annual report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

BOOK REVIEW: Twelve Years A Slave – by Solomon Northup

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Title: Twelve Years A Slave
Author: Solomon Northup
Genre: Non Fiction, History, Memoir
First published: 1853
Finished reading: December 26th 2014
Pages: 288
Rating 4

‚ÄúLife is dear to every living thing; the worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for it.‚ÄĚ

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This book was a gift of a friend who knows I always like reading historical books, whether fiction or non fiction. Twelve Years A Slave is not the first book about slavery that I’ve read, but without doubt it is one of the more powerful once. In this memoir Solomon Northup, born a free man, tells us about how he was kidnapped, then forced into slavery during twelve long years and finally rescued from such fate. It’s not an easy read and at times a bit slow in pace, but the message is powerful enough to keep reading. I think most people already suspect how slaves were treated in Southern USA back in those days, but actually reading a testimony makes it hard to ignore such inhumane treatment that was used on black slaves. Like Northup said in his book, it was part of the culture and most slave owners didn’t know any better, but still… Even humane masters as Ford¬†were still seeing slaves as property and forced them to work for them. A heavy, but strong book and definitely recommended to those who are interested in reading more about the life of slaves.

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Solomon Northup was born a free man in the state of New York. He got married, had some children and were able to coope by working hard. Even in the free states, work for black men was harder to find, but both Solomon and his wife were creative enough to scrape together an income. Solomon plays the violin, and when to gentlemen invite him to travel with them to Washington with the promise of money, he quickly agrees to join them. Unfortunately, they deceived him and Solomon was kidnapped, severely beaten and then sold into slavery in 1841. Once crossing the border to the Southern States, he knew that nobody would believe he was a free man without his papers. And those who did, would most likely kill him rather than set him free. So he kept his mouth shut and during twelve years played the role of Platt the slave on different plantations in Louisiana.

Solomon/Platt had different owners during those twelve years and while some, like master Ford, treated him at least with humanity, others were mere brutes and unnecessarily¬†cruel. They actually try to kill him various times when he refuses to be humiliated too much, and owes his life to more humane southerners. Solomon tells us the story of when he manages to escape against all odds and arrive safely back at master Ford’s land, who then protects him from harm. Solomon first works at the cotton plantation, and later is hired to sugar cane plantations as he is way more productive at the latter. He help building new houses and other useful buildings and stands out for his cleverness and violin skills. And then finally he meets the right man that will help him reclaim his freedom…

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If you are interested in reading more about the life of slaves during the years of slavery in Southern USA, Twelve Years A Slave is without doubt a must read. This is not just another testimony written by a slave, in this memoir we see the facts¬†through the eyes of a free man that was forced into slavery. That and the fact that Solomon Northup clearly was an educated man, makes this book that much more powerful. The prose is not always easy to read, but the message makes up for it. Plus, this book was written back in 1853…

Teaser Tuesdays #25 – December 30th: Clockwork Prince

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TEASER TUESDAYS¬†is a weekly¬†book meme¬†originally featured¬†at¬†Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‚Äėteaser‚Äô sentences from somewhere on that page.¬†(no spoilers!)

It’s time for the very last Teaser Tuesdays of this year! December is always a busy month, and I haven’t had much time to blog or read… But hopefully things will be better once I’m back from vacation in February! As for what I’m reading right now; after a TBR jar pick gone wrong, I decided to play safe and read the second book of The Infernal Devices trilogy, Clockwork Prince, next. I loved the Cassandra Clare‘s first book, Clockwork Angel, and the sequel is just as good so far.

clockworkprince‚ÄúHe was cut off as the altar moved sideways with a groan, revealing a dark, empty hole behind it. Tessa could see faint flickers of light in among the shadows. Will ducked into the hole, his witchlight illuminating the darkness.‚ÄĚ

 

What are you reading right now?

BINGOOOOO!! Bookish Bingo Challenge Completed

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I finally finished reading Twelve Years A Slave yesterday, which means I was able to fill the very last square in¬†the Bookish Bingo: Holiday Edition challenge. With five days to spare, I can now say: BINGOOOOO!! ūüėÄ

To be honest, when I started this challenge I didn’t believe I could actually manage to complete all the squares. I guess I was lucky and I found a lot of spare time to read anyway, helping me complete this challenge. This Bookish Bingo has helped me read books I normally won’t pick up that easily, and I loved doing this challenge because of exactly that reason. Thank you Great Imaginations for hosting! I had a blast. ūüėÄ

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On to the virtual celebration cupcakes and a full list of the titles I’ve read:

  • Reread: Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire¬†by J.K. Rowling
  • Green Cover:¬†Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Historical: Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup
  • Set in New Orleans:¬†Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
  • Horror:¬†The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Romance: One Day by David Nichols
  • ‚ÄėIce‚Äô, ‚ÄėSnow‚Äô or ‚ÄėFrost‚Äô in title:¬†Hot Ice by Nora Roberts
  • Creature on Cover: Elemental Rancor by Charles Lominec
  • Native American MC:¬†The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman
  • Red Cover:¬†A Matter Of Honour by Jeffrey Archer
  • Set on Halloween: Halloween Kentucky Style by Charles Suddeth
  • Snow on Cover: Innocence by Dean Koontz
  • *: Hope’s Rebellion by Jade Varden
  • Black Cover:¬†Black Roses by Jane Thynne
  • Serial Killers: The Body Farm¬†by Patricia Cornwell
  • Birds on Cover:¬†The Racketeer by John Grisham
  • Mystery:¬†The Sham by Ellen Allen
  • Set During Christmastime: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Set in Space: Kiera‚Äôs Moon by Lizzy Ford
  • A Book that was a Gift:¬†Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Witches:¬†The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • Set in Autumn: Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight
  • Orange Cover:¬†The Elect by Elle Todd
  • Fall or Winter Release: Nothing Everything Nothing by Casia¬†Schreyer
  • Steampunk: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Top 5 Favorites:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (5/5)
    Without doubt this was one of my favorite reads of both this challenge and 2014 in general. This dystopian classic is a brilliant masterpiece and definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.
  2. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (4,5/5)
    I have read City Of Bones before and enjoyed it, but I have to say I like this prequel trilogy SO much better than the actual series! I have Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess lined up to be read ASAP before I continue The Mortal Instruments series…
  3. Nothing Everything Nothing by Casia Schreyer (4,5/5)
    Very strong book about teenage insecurity, bullying and suicide attempts, and without doubt worth reading. Left me speechless!
  4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (4,5/5)
    Another very strong book about what really goes on in the meat industry. Safran Foer mixes facts with parts of his biography, and some of the facts are quite shocking. Not recommended if you have a weak stomach!
  5. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by J.K. Rowling (4,5/5)
    The Harry Potter series has been one of my favorite series when I was growing up, and I never get tired of rereading them!

Friday Finds #19 – December 26th

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FRIDAY FINDS¬†is originally featured at¬†Should Be Reading¬†and¬†showcases the most interesting books I‚Äôve¬†encountered during, in this case, the last two weeks and have added to my neverending TBR list¬†on¬†Goodreads. I haven’t had much time to read, blog or browse books during the last two weeks since I was busy giving our home a new coat of paint… I’ll post some pics of the result soon; the blue walls look awesome. ūüėÄ

My finds:

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BOOK REVIEW: A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

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Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Christmas
First published: 1843
Finished reading: December 23rd 2014
Pages: 160
Rating 4

‚ÄúIt is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.‚ÄĚ

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I have been wanting to read this classic by Charles Dickens for ages. This year I finally came around actually reading A Christmas Carol¬†and I’m glad¬†that I did. A lot of stories, series and movies have been based on this story about the three Spirits visiting¬†Ebeneezer Scrooge, and it is nice to finally read the original version. I already knew what was going to happen, but still I very much enjoyed reading A Christmas Carol. Recommended to anyone who is or wants to be in the Christmas mood!

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Since I think most people are more than familiar with the story already, I will keep this summary short. A Christmas Carol is about a coldhearted and money loving man called Ebeneezer Scrooge, who thinks money is everything and doesn’t care about affection or charity. He hates¬†Christmas and is reluctant to grant even his employee the day off on Christmas day, and writes off the good wishes as folly. Then, at night, his old (and dead!) partner Jacob Marley visits him with a warning: Scrooge has to change, or things will turn out badly for him.

Three spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come will visit Scrooge and show him what he is missing. He slowly realizes what the spirits want to show him and learns his lessons. Charity and kindness are important and will change lives, not only during Christmas but the whole year. Scrooge is determined to change his behavior and save his soul…

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A Christmas Carol is a short but sweet Christmas story with some strong life lessons. This classic by Charles Dickens¬†is definitely worth reading and perfect to get you in the holiday mood! It is amazing that a story written so many years ago¬†turns out to be timeless…

BOOK REVIEW: The Racketeer – by John Grisham

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Title: The Racketeer
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 2012
Finished reading: December 22nd 2014
Pages: 386
Rating 3

“I was guilty all right. Guilty of stupidity for allowing myself to fall into such a mess.”

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I’ve read a few of John Grisham‘s books in the past, so when I came across a copy of The Racketeer I decided to give it a go. I finished it with mixed feelings. It’s not that I didn’t like the story or that the prose was bad, but I just couldn’t connect to the main characters. Especially Max/Malcolm; he is actually turns out to be a¬†first class crook¬†and I was supposed to feel empathy for him? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The story is entertaining enough to keep reading though. It was interesting to read how they were able to deceive the government and FBI, even though the story is fully fictional. All in all a book for an entertaining afternoon as long as you don’t care too much about having a thief¬†as a main character and keep in mind this was ment as a fiction novel.

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Federal judge Raymond Fawcett has been murdered, and the FBI doesn’t have a clue who is responsable. No physical evidence was found in the remote cabin his body was found along with the body of his young secretary, and they don’t know where to start. Former attorney Malcolm Bannister claims he knows the identity of the killer and why the judge was murdered, and sees this information as his way out of The Federal Prison Camp he¬†currently calls his home. The Feds promise to get him out of prison and into witness protection if he shares his¬†information, and soon Malcolm is a free man with a new face and identity.

What the FBI doesn’t know is that Malcolm, now Max, has a plan that will make him a very rich man. At the murder scene an empty safe was found, and Max knows what was inside. Together with Vanessa, the sister of the man he claimed to be¬†the murderer, they slowly put their plan into action to get the contents of the safe. Max leaves witness protection and disappears; the Feds don’t have a clue where he is or what he is doing. And the real killer¬†doesn’t realize he is about to be deceived ¬†and trapped by Max…

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Part of the story was a bit hard to believe, but as Grisham explained, The Racketeer is ment as a work of fiction. The story itself is quite entertaining, which makes up for the lack of connection to the characters. It’s not the perfect read and some of the scenes close to cliche, but it is still worth reading if you like treasure hunts and seeing FBI agents running around in circles.

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Wind – by Tony Hillerman

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Title: The Dark Wind
(Navajo Mysteries Series #5)
Author: Tony Hillerman
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller
First published: 1982
Finished reading: December 10th 2014
Pages: 290
Rating 3,5

“Then, as he thought it through all the way, through from the east, the south, the west, and the north, and back to the east again, just as his uncle had taught him, he saw that it might help. Everything must have a reason. Nothing was done without a cause.”

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It’s not the first time I read a book by Tony Hillerman. I read Hunting Badger last year and I remember enjoying the Native American elements in that novel. The Dark Wind is no exception; the same Native American elements makes this novel stand out from other treasure hunt stories. It is quite easy to understand this story without reading¬†the previous books of the Navajo Mysteries series; I haven’t done so myself and I didn’t feel I was missing important information. The Dark Wind is an entertaining, although sometimes a tad slow read that¬†gives you a glimpse of how things work in the Native American community. And exactly that cultural information makes this novel worth reading.

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Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police has been transferred to a new area just as things get complicated. A dead body that shows signs of Navajo sorcery has been found on Hopi land… And as Jim Chee is investigating a chain of strange attacks on a windmill, an airplane crashes close to the crime scene. The crash turns out to be drugs related, and things make a turn for the worse when the shipment of cocaine vanishes without a trace. Chee is convinced everything is connected, but his boss doesn’t want him to get involved in the federal investigation. But they get to him anyway, and soon Chee is not only determined to figure out what really happened, but also trying not to get killed in the process…

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The Dark Wind was an interesting read full of cultural references, and these Native American elements made up for most of the flaws. The pace is a bit slow at points and not all scenes and characters are actually believable… But all in all Hillerman managed to write an entertaining novel that is worth reading, especially if you are interested in the Native American culture.

WWW Wednesdays #22 – Christmas Edition

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I’m baaaack!! ūüėÄ It took a bit more time than originally planned to actually finish everything, but life is finally back to normal. Just in time for Christmas! I haven’t had much time to read in the last two weeks, but I managed to finish two books… Ah, and before I continue, I first want to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas!

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On to the meme… Originally featured at¬†Should Be Reading,¬†WWW WEDNESDAYS is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

twelveyearsaslaveI‚Äôm finally continuing with¬†Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup, a story about a free man who was forced into slavery during twelve years.¬†Since I didn’t have much free time to actually sit down with a paperback, I didn’t get much reading done… But now I have, I’m hoping to finish this one soon.

 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

achristmascarolI16139704¬†finished The Racketeer by John Grisham¬†the other day, as well as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The first one didn’t fully convince me; the main character turns out to be a crook and it is not easy to symphatize with his situation. A Christmas Carol was the perfect read just before Christmas, and I’m glad I finally came around reading the original story!

  • What do you think you‚Äôll read next?

Since I will be completing the Bookish Bingo challenge as soon as I finish reading Twelve Years A Slave, it will be REALLY hard to choose my next read. I have no idea so far which title to pick next, and I might end up using my TBR cup to decide for me…

Why I’ve Been Gone

No, I haven’t disappeared from the face of the earth… I have been busy getting paint spatters all over myself while I¬†am painting my home with my hubby. We started last Thursday and have been preparing and painting ever since; our stuff, including computer, stored away while we work at our place. No computer means no easy access to WordPress and no chance of posting my pending reviews and other book memes… Windows Phone and WordPress just don’t go together. We will be trying to finish before the end of the weekend, so hopefully I will be back by next Monday. Until then, happy reading and have a great week you all! I’m sure yours won’t be as tiring as mine haha. ūüėÄ

P.S. Two of our walls are now Caribbean blue (similar to the bottom one in the picture)! I’m absolutely loving the color! ūüėÄ