Monthly Archives: December 2015

Emma’s Read Harder 2015

I absolutely loved Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge! It pushed me to read books, authors, and genres that I would not normally gravitate towards. I discovered authors whose other works I want to read (Joseph Boyden and Lauren Beukes), formats I’d never been interested in before (audiobooks), and a new manga series I would have never read otherwise (Skip-Beat). I’m looking forward to what the 2016 challenge will bring.


hellhole orenda poisoned apples hausfrau

*Hellhole (challenge 11: YA) – The premise behind Hellhole drew me in – a house-crashing devil camped out on the basement couch playing video games and eating junk food. Sarcasm, snarkiness, and black humor are rampant. I loved how the characters played off of each other. The bickering reminded me of my sister and I when we’re on a roll (seriously, hang out with us sometime and you’ll either fall in with us or stare in abject horror).

*The Orenda (challenge 9: Indigenous culture) – A beautiful and brutal book told from the viewpoints of three main characters during the time when Jesuit missionaries were first arriving in North America. I liked that each character felt true to their background and beliefs. I also liked that none of them were painted to be only good or only bad or only right or only wrong.

*Poisoned Apples (challenge 17: Poetry) – A book of poetry that uses fairy tales and their tropes as jumping off points for poems about women, girls, and body image. None of the poems are terribly long, but they all pack hard punch. This is a book I needed when I was in high school. It still resonates with me in my 30’s.

*Hausfrau (challenge 21: Guilty pleasure) – Favorite isn’t the right word for Hausfrau, but it is a book that hangs around for a while after you finish it. It is definitely a love it or hate it book. I’m on the love it side of the fence, but then I like stories that focus on a person’s psychological downward spiral. Aspects of Anna and her marriage reflect my life – passivity and complacency, feeling trapped, being overwhelmed by where your decisions have led you.


  1. Author under 25: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  2. Author over 65: Emma: A Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
  3. Short stories: The Woman Who Though She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
  4. Indie press: Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
  5. LGBTQ: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  6. Author a different gender: Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
  7. Takes place in Asia: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang
  8. Author African: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  9. Indigenous culture: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  10. Microhistory: If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley
  11. YA: Hellhole by Gina Damico
  12. Science fiction: Universal Alien by Gini Koch
  13. Romance: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
  14. Award winner: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
  15. Classic retelling: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
  16. Audiobook: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  17. Poetry: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
  18. Recommendation: Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura
  19. Translation: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
  20. Graphic novel: Beauty by Hubert
  21. Guilty pleasure: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  22. Published before 1850: Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius
  23. Published in 2015: Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet
  24. Self-help: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

November Books

November was a crazy month, as evidenced by how many books I read (and the fact that it was heavy on romance and fantasy). I can’t blame it all on avoiding responsibilities as I blew through a lot of the books while escorting the cleaning crew at work (they hadn’t received their clearances yet).

I “officially” read 33 books and novellas. However, the number is somewhat higher because I ended up starting a human-women-abducted-by-aliens-romance kick, but…let’s just say the ones that aren’t listed were very, very painful to read. I can gloss over a lot of badness in the name of a story that has the potential to be interesting, but sometimes bad writing and stilted characters/dialog just kill it.

z 6th why not me


birthright 2 koch 1 first then 5th grave court thorns 6th grave station 11 cinderella colonel Untitled-10 princess ahira rump shea puss boots shea mbrc mbrc 2 mbrc anth cowboy gannon wicked gannon caveman gannon barbarian 1 barbarian 2 barbarian 3 barbarian 4 not another vampire vampire charming dk pre dk 1 zombies gannon dk 2 dk 3 dk 4

*KM Shea – I first read Cinderella and the Colonel last year and loved it – a very well written take on Cinderella. Her MBRC books are great and in keeping with strong, resourceful heroines. Shea’s books are light romances.

*Cassandra Gannon – I’ve had several of her ebooks sitting on my iPad for ages, but never got around to actually reading them. Cowboy from the Future caught my attention, so I bought it, read it, and loved it. I love her use of pop culture references and the fact that her female MCs lean towards strong, resourceful, and sometimes sassy (Karalynn from Not Another Vampire Book takes the sarcastic cake). Gannon’s romances are a bit more on the bodice ripper side when it comes to scenes/description.

*Alien Romances – Only four of the 12 books in this sub-genre are ones I will publicly claim to have read. The Ice Barbarian series made it because women weren’t weak damsels in distress. They were in distress, and then did something about it. While their survival focuses on shacking up with big blue aliens, the women are resourceful and adapt to an alien planet.

*Dark Kings – The main plot of each book is the romance between the two MCs, while the overarching plot of the series is awesome. It is complex, with ambiguous motivations and hidden players. The romance aspects are fairly formulaic, but easily glossed over. I could give or take the majority of the MCs in each book, but Rhi, Ulrik, and Constantine are by far my favorite characters.