PopSugar Halfway – Sophia

It’s that time of year again – I’m over halfway through the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge! Like last year, I’ve made a point not to use any book for more than one category, which brings me up to 23 books at this point.  There’s a nice blend of tasks, and a few of them will be truly challenging for me, such as reading a political memoir (politics make my brain explode) and the first book you see in a bookstore (I rely on the library and also I don’t want to get stuck with a terrible one).  But I’ll get through those too.  For now, here’s what I have so far.

This year’s unofficial theme is science fiction – here are my top three favorites:

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  • Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant – This book was just plain fun.  In only 128 pages, Grant delivers an intriguing premise, varied characters, and well-calibrated suspense.  It brought to mind the movie ‘Incident at Loch Ness’ (watch it!) and of course the countless “documentaries” about any number of legendary creatures that regularly make the rounds on SyFy, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, et al. It’s nothing groundbreaking and it puts forward no particular message, but as pure entertainment, it’s fantastic.
  • Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – At my sister’s recommendation, I listened to the audiobook version, which features a full cast and sound effects.  For my own reference and to experience the unique formatting, I also followed along in a physical copy.  I LOVED IT.  Listening to it in my car, it was easy to pretend I was hurtling across the universe in my Civic-turned-spaceship.  I got completely sucked into the story – it was funny and spooky and so full of WTF moments, I made up errands and took detours just to keep listening.  The physical book was fascinating to explore, but I’m glad I opted for the audiobook.  It brought the story to life so perfectly.  DON’T LOOK AT ME.
  • The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo – I love weird books and I love dystopian stories.  This one is the best of both.  The thematic elements are terrifyingly relevant, especially given the current social and political climate, and the more bizarre aspects stand out but still make sense in context.  The storytelling format was a sort of mixed media deal, offering straight narrative interspersed with excerpts from scientific articles, government edicts, and other similar snippets.  It was a good way to offer up background information without weighing down the tension of the plot with too much exposition.

Other notable favorites include A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gold Fame Citrus, As You Wish, and The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.

Completed tasks:

1) Based on a fairy tale – Speak Easy, Catherynne M. Valente
3) YA bestseller – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
4) Book you haven’t read since high school – Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
5) Set in your home state – The Road Through the Wall, Shirley Jackson
6) Translated into English – The Vegetarian, Han Kang
7) Romance set in the future – Cowboy from the Future, Cassandra Gannon
8) Set in Europe – The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo
9) Under 150 pages – The Visitor, Maeve Brennan
14) Book you can finish in a day – Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
15) Written by a celebrity – The Bassoon King, Rainn Wilson
18) More than 600 pages – Winter, Marissa Meyer
20) Science fiction novel – Illuminae, Amie Kaufman
21) Recommended by family member – Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
22) Graphic novel – Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
23) Published in 2016 – Travelers Rest, Keith Lee Morris
26A) A book… – Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
26B) …and its prequel – Cruel Crown, Victoria Aveyard
27) Murder mystery – In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
29) Dystopian novel – Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins
30) Book with a blue cover – The Clasp, Sloane Crosley
34) Book from the library – The Turner House, Angela Flournoy
37) Unfamiliar culture – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Joshua Hammer
40) Guaranteed to bring you joy – As You Wish, Cary Elwes

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