I hope you all had a fab Christmas! The arrival of Christmas Day signalled the end of the 2014 CramAThon, the readathon hosted by WhittyNovels with the intention of reading as many short books as possible between the 20th and the 24th of December (inclusive). There were also 7 challenges to be completed across the course of the readathon. Now, I am going to summarise how my CramAThon went, and give brief reviews of what I read. (I wrote an update midway through the CramAThon which summarised quite a few days’ worth of reading. I’ll link that here if you want to have a look).
Including short stories, novellas and poetry, I read 9 books across the course of the CramAThon. The main challenge was to read 5 books. I always intended to exclude short stories/novellas from this count, which brought my book count to 7, so I still achieved this challenge. I also managed to complete all of the other challenges. I will outline how I completed each challenge below, as I go over each thing that I read in chronological order. I also read almost everything from my TBR (link here), which is a miracle for me, as I never stick to my TBRs and I always read other things instead. I did read things that were not on my TBR, but I read all but two things from the list. The first, ‘The Complete Works of Tennyson’, was only put down as I could not think of another doable and enjoyable option for the ‘read a book written in verse/poetry’ challenge, however on the Saturday of the CramAThon in the shop where I work, I came across an epic poem that I wanted to read, so purchased and read that instead (as I will tell you about later), so there was no need to read the Tennyson poetry. The second unread book was ‘Sex and the City’ by Candace Bushnell. This was not necessary to any of the challenges, and was just a book that I wanted to get read. However, upon reading the first 5 pages, I decided that I was really not in the mood for it, so put it down, as I was not going to be motivated to finish it soon. Now I’ve outlined what I didn’t read, let’s talk about what I did read:
‘Night of Cake and Puppets’ by Laini Taylor
Read on Saturday 20th. I really loved Laini Taylor’s ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’, which I read back in September. So when it came to the task of reading a novella, I decided that I wanted to read a novella that went with one of my favourite series. As I have already read the ‘Under the Never Sky’ novella and one of the many ‘The Assassin’s Curse’ novellas, and ‘In Time’ by Alexandra Bracken is no longer on the Amazon Kindle Store, I chose ‘Night of Cake and Puppets’, a ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ novella about Karou’s best friend Zuzanna. Zuzanna was my favourite character, and I really was interested by her life away from Karou’s perspective, so I unsurprisingly loved this novella. Taylor’s writing was (as always) brilliant, it was funny and gripping and the plot was very cute. We already knew from the first book in the series that Karou was not in Prague at this point in time, but we still saw her through texts and phone calls, which was nice. We saw Zuzanna as a lot more vulnerable in this novella than we do in the first book, which was really nice, as while I love her brash, confident and loud side, it made her even more likeable to see moments where her confidence is lacking. This was quite possibly my favourite read of the CramAThon.
‘How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas’ by Fiona Gibson
Read on Saturday 20th. I have a lot of unread short stories on my Nook (as they’re often free and I never turn down a bargain), and after completing ‘Night of Cake and Puppets’ on there, I decided that it would be worth it to read one short story, just for the sake of completing a slightly higher percentage of my eBooks. I chose this as it is Christmas themed, therefore I probably should read it now rather than in the Summer (like I did with ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’). This was a perfectly adequate short story: there was a good amount of content for the number of pages, the story was readable (and probably relatable to quite a few people in places) and the writing was pretty solid. It just was not my ‘thing’. I did not like how the story ended (quite abruptly), it was a tad predictable and as a general, romance is never top of my list of things to read. It definitely was not bad, and I suppose I liked it, but it was nothing more than a quick filler read.
‘The Complete Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
4.25 Stars (Rounded to 4)
Read on Sunday 21st. I suppose I could have counted this as two, as this is a bind up of the two ‘Persepolis’ graphic novels, but I read it as one, so I counted it as one book. This completed the challenge of reading a graphic novel. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. It is a hard-hitting autobiography of a woman’s experiences of Iran during war, and the challenges she faced moving away from her home country. This may be a true story, but it does not feel like a list of facts, as some autobiographies do; it flows perfectly as a story. It really does make you think about your life and that of others in the world, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. However, for a graphic novel, I was not fond of the artwork. It was entirely black and white (which I got used to but it distracted me at first) and the drawings just were not my kind of art. That being said, the writing was brilliant.
‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling
Read on Sunday 21st. Before the readathon, this was the only one of the three ‘Hogwarts Library’ books that I had not read in its entirety, mainly as I did not own the box set and read them at my friend’s (saying that, I did get the set for Christmas, so can now reread them as much as I do the other ‘Harry Potter’ books). This was not on my TBR, but I was at my friend’s house, and she owned a copy. It is only tiny, and I read it in no time. I loved actually getting to read the fairytales that are referenced in the series, and I think that they are all lovely little stories, especially ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ and ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’. Dumbledore’s notes are a fantastic idea as well. Of course, I loved this book. In the act of reading this, I had read two books in 24 hours (this and ‘Persepolis’), and seeing as I did not count the earlier novellas in this count, it was the first of multiple times where I completed the ‘read 2 books in 24 hours’ challenge. This also completed my challenge of reading a children’s book.
‘Casino Royale’ by Ian Fleming
Read on Monday 22nd. This is the first ‘James Bond’ novel, and I will hold my hands up and say that before this, I had never read or seen a James Bond movie, so this was my first exposure to the famous 007. I have to say that I was not hugely impressed. There were some good bits, such as the casino scene, but on the whole, it was a pretty obvious and dull story. The twist at the end was predictable, and James Bond is a pretty repulsive character. He is very sexist and dismissive of women’s abilities; he is constantly using rather unsavoury descriptions such as ‘bitch’ to refer to females, and everything is always ‘Vesper’s fault’, despite the fact that he is supposed to love her. This frustrated me a lot. The writing is good, and I suppose that the concepts were all very traditional of their genre, but I can’t say that I thought it was a particularly good book as a whole. And to think that this was were our ‘favourite’ secret agent started…
‘Beowulf’, Author Unknown
Read on Monday 22nd. I have read a lot of poetry, but I had never read anything like ‘Beowulf’. The Old English epic, written between the 8th and 11th centuries, is a fantastical piece said to have inspired Tolkien, among many others. I can definitely see why people would be inspired by this poem. It is fascinating, and actually said a lot about the habits of the human race: Beowulf was constantly helping so many people and they didn’t rise to help him when he needed it… Did he let power get to his head?… I think that I gained a lot more from reading this poem in my free time than I would have done had I read it analytically (for a course or the like). I enjoyed it as a piece of work, and I think that picking away at it to find more meaning would have ruined the work for me. This was my read for ‘book in poetry/verse’, which took the previously mentioned Tennyson work off my TBR.
‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo
4.5 Stars (Rounded to 5)
Read on Monday 22nd. Michael Morpurgo did it again. That man has a talent for moving me to tears with his poignant and brilliant books. I have to be seriously affected by a book to cry at it, and yet Morpurgo has done it with all three of his books that I have read. ‘War Horse’ was very easy to read, not just as it is a children’s book, but as Morpurgo’s writing is incredibly skilful and compelling. The fact that the book is told from a horse’s point of view is unconventional, but it surprisingly works perfectly; we see war told through an almost naive view, yet it exposes us to more than we would be had it been told by a child. This book, much like ‘Private Peaceful’, made me think a lot about the First World War, and it once again hit me how it touched every walk of life. I rated this book higher than the other two Morpurgos I have read, as I found it easier to read than ‘Private Peaceful’ and I am more fascinated by the historical aspect than that of ‘Alone on a Wide Wide Sea’, although I actually think I preferred ‘Alone on a Wide Wide Sea‘. This is another book for the ‘read a children’s book’ challenge, even though I had already completed it.
‘Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son’ by Roger and Charlie Mortimer
3.5 Stars (Rounded to 3)
Read on Tuesday 23rd. This book was my ‘hardcover challenge’ read for the CramAThon. This book is a collection of letters that horse-racing correspondent and author Roger Mortimer wrote to his son, Charlie, with Charlie’s annotations as to the meaning of the letters. This book was really rather funny. It distinctly reminded me of the TV show ‘Life is Toff’: an insight into an incredibly upper-class family and their chaotic doings. Some of the goings-on are so bizarre that it is hard to believe that it actually happened. I very much enjoyed reading this, but it was a light read, and was not anything particularly serious.
‘PS, I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern
4.5 Stars (Rounded to 4)
Read on Wednesday 24th. The final book of the CramAThon was a Cecelia Ahern book. I am fast becoming a massive fan of Ahern’s books, as all three that I have now read have been fantastic. This book was drawn from my TBR jar as a December pick, and as I have strayed massively from my December TBR, I decided that I should read this one on Wednesday so that my TBR was not a complete failure. It was a very good choice, especially as the end of the book finished around Christmas/New Year! If I hadn’t already done my Top 5 Wintry Reads, this would have gone on there. The book is about a 30-year-old widower, Holly, who finds 10 months worth of letters from her deceased husband, with challenges to last until the end of the year. This book was very poignant and thought-provoking, yet I laughed out loud on several occasions (including an embarrassing example in McDonalds). It was wonderfully written, and the journey that Holly goes on is well thought-out and inspirational. I adored the majority of the characters, and the family atmosphere created with Holly’s parents and siblings was brilliant. I loved Leo the hairdresser, Sharon and John, Denise and everyone in the magazine office. To say that this is my least favourite Ahern book so far says a lot about the others, rather than insulting this one, as this book was absolutely fab, I just prefer ‘Where Rainbows End’ and ‘The Book of Tomorrow’. I now intend to read the other Ahern book on my shelf, ‘One Hundred Names’.
That sums up my CramAThon. I am very happy with how it went; I think that I read as much as I could given how busy I was, and I took some things off my TBR that have been there for a while, as well as reading my TBR jar pick of the month, so it was definitely a good move to take part in this readathon.